France: French Perspectives Of COP 21

Last Updated: 17 December 2015
Article by Marc Fornacciari

France considers the agreement that will result from COP 21 in Paris as an essential part of the fight against the climate change. The French state attaches a particular importance to this agreement by reiterating several times that such an agreement could only be binding. France also distinguishes itself for its will to reach a universal agreement that involves both the most developed countries and the developing economies. For Paris and for France, COP 21 has particular importance.

Climate perspectives. It is considered that the main principles flowing from the COP 21 will directly influence the climate challenges France is facing. Indeed, although France is located in temperate zone, an increase of temperature will have a medium-term influence on three important areas for the country.

  • Global warming will influence significantly the health sector, especially with regards to the development of vegetation which provokes allergies and asthma, but also with regards to the arrival in France of the Tiger mosquito and the tropical diseases that it carries with it.
  • An increase in temperature would also have a direct negative impact on agriculture and more specifically on the wine sector, which is particularly important in France. France actually fears that a deterioration of the wine quality would result from a lack of an agreement.
  • Finally, France attaches importance to the success of the COP 21 with regards to the effects that the lack of an agreement would have on its nuclear power capacity. The increase of water temperature would limit the cooling capacity of reactors and slow the cycle for electricity production.

Diplomatic perspectives. Beyond the importance of success of the COP 21 in terms of consequences on France's climate, being the host country also leads the state to consider the COP 21 as a great lever for its diplomacy. The choice in appointing the Foreign Affairs Minister to preside over the COP 21 instead of leaving this role to the Environment Minister has to be understood in this way.

Thus, the French President, François Hollande, intends to give a leading role to France. He recently stated that he expected from the COP 21 that the parties adopt a "declaration for the rights of humanity to preserve the planet."

Under such a perspective, France acted as an example during the COP 21. As such, it has given itself a strong tool in environmental policy by adopting the comprehensive Energy Transition Act last August.

Local perspectives. As a host of the COP 21, the city of Paris intended to play as well an exemplary role, especially in terms of accommodation, transport and catering of participants, while minimizing their environmental impact.

Beyond that, the organization of the COP 21 in Paris was, for Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a unique tool for developing the local economy and promoting the environmental activism of this city.

A summit bringing together the elected representatives of cities located all over the world was held in conjunction with the COP 21. It left the opportunity for local elected representatives to define the leading role they intended to play in the fight against global warming.

The organization of the COP 21 in Paris also highlighted innovative solutions already implemented or to be implemented in the capital city for energy transition. In anticipation of the start of the COP 21, Anne Hidalgo recently made two important announcements: in early 2016, all of the municipal buildings and street lightings of the capital city will be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity; and the city of Paris also announced the subscription of a 300 million euros debt to finance the fight against the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Last but not least, the effervescence linked to the presence of the COP 21 in Paris would create professional opportunities for Parisian youth, especially for those from Seine Saint Denis where the meetings were held.

In consideration of the issues that the COP 21 represented for the French government and the city of Paris, both implemented a strong policy of communication through social media, trying to involve citizens in the fight against climate change over the long term and in short term perspective, in the preparation of the COP 21.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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