France calls on world leaders to sign Paris Agreement in person

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French foreign minister says efforts to fight climate change will be given a push if heads of government ratify the deal.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius has urged world leaders to ratify the Paris climate deal in person in order to give efforts to fight climate change a new push.

Speaking to the Guardian, Fabius urged heads of state to sign the accord at a high level signing ceremony on April 22 in New York, where it will be enshrined into international law. 

“We should have the leaders there, to give a new impulse [to the implementation of the accord],” he told the Guardian. “At the first day of Paris [which leaders attended] there was a tremendous push. It’s time for a new push in April.”

In order for the Paris agreement to be made official, nations accounting for more than 55 per cent of global emissions must have officially signed up. Fabius said he was “pretty confident” leaders would attend.

Fabius admitted that much more still needs to be done to rein in climate change, pointing to the complete omission of international aviation and shipping emissions from the UN talks. Clear rules must also be set out on how to monitor emissions in a “transparent” fashion, he said, while governments must be helpful to businesses developing the new clean technologies that will be “decisive” in cutting emissions. 

Speaking to MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Fabius said the outcome of Paris means the “dynamic unleashed” in the fight for action on climate change is “irreversible”. "The Paris Agreement showed that diplomacy can lead to results,” he said. “There is a before Paris and an after Paris."

However, some representatives in the parliament urged the EU to deepen its emission reduction goals in light of the inclusion of a 1.5C target in the Paris Agreement, which are currently set to align with the 2C target.

“We have to admit we took the low end, we should now go to the high end and ensure 95 per cent,” Kathleen van Brempt, an MEP from Belgium, reportedly told the parliament. She added that this would need to be done before the post-2020 EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) reform plan is completed in early 2017.

Ian Duncan, an MEP from the UK who is steering that ETS proposal through the parliament’s environment committee, agreed that the reference to 1.5C in the Paris deal meant the EU’s 2050 aim “must be reconsidered”.

The calls follow on from a manifesto published last month by researchers at Dutch climate think tank the Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy (IEECP), which urged countries to boost their climate action plans ahead of the high-level signing ceremony in April.

The researchers argued an early increase of ambition would boost political momentum for climate action in the wake of the summit.

The Paris Agreement commits signatories to hold the temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts” to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C – a difference in language that Fabius pointed out when speaking to the MEPs.

This article is part of BusinessGreen's Road to Paris hub, hosted in association with PwC.

SOURCE: Business Green, January 25th 2016: