Soirée de lancement de la COP21 à l’Institut Français du Cambodge (30/11/2015)
Dear colleagues from the diplomatic corps,
Dear members of the civil society and business community,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Thanks for being with us for this special event to mark the opening of the COP 21 conference today in Paris in the presence of 150 world leaders. I am pleased to welcome you in this recently renovated movie theatre of the French Institute. It is quite unusual for me to address you in English in this place but I owe that as a courtesy to our many non-French speaking guests.
One year ago in Lima, Peru, many delegates congratulated Mr. Laurent Fabius, our Minister for Foreign affairs and International development, when France was selected to be the chair of the COP 21 conference. At the same time, they wished him “good luck”, which was a stark reminder of the challenge that was ahead of us. Today, as we mark together the official opening of the COP 21 in Paris, it is worth remembering the gentle warning given to Mr Fabius because, although we have worked hard with the United Nations and the Peruvian presidency to pave the way for a meaningful outcome in Paris, we will still need a bit of luck to succeed with our task within the next 2 weeks.
Throughout the year, we have tried to engage with all stakeholders, listen to their views, understand their positions and explain our goals and how we wanted to achieve them. Here, let me recall briefly what these objectives are : first, of course, to be a good host to what is going to be the largest diplomatic gathering ever organized in France, and you can easily imagine that the current security context in France makes it all the more challenging ; second, and more importantly, to reach on 11 December an agreement that is, in Laurent Fabius’s own words, “universal but differentiated, legally-binding, ambitious, lasting, dynamic and fair” in terms of emission reductions so as to limit the temperature rise under 2°C.
The next two weeks will tell us if we have been successful but there are already a number of concrete results that can be considered as encouraging. The first one is the mobilization of most countries around the world to come up with national commitments for green-house gases reductions, the so-called intended Nationally Determined Contributions or iNDCs. At the opening of the conference, 180 countries, including Cambodia, representing roughly 94% of worldwide emissions, have released such contributions. Although first analysis suggests that the level of ambition of these iNDCs is not high enough to limit the rise in temperatures under 2° C, it is nonetheless a significant milestone if one considers for example, that the Kyoto protocol covers only 15% of today’s emissions.
A second result is the recognition that mitigation and adaptation measures should be given the same importance in the iNDCs since for developing countries like Cambodia, adaptation to the negative impact of climate change will be critical. These two dimensions are closely intertwined : if we don’t reduce our emissions and adapt our economic models to be more carbon neutral, the risk is that progress made in poverty reduction over the past 10 years will be offset by the impact of climate disruption on economic growth.
The third achievement is on the funding side. Of course, efforts are still needed to reach the 100 billion mark annually for the Green Fund. But there are already 10 billion ready to be disbursed and more importantly, the Green Fund is starting to roll out its first projects in vulnerable countries.
Lastly, the mobilization of civil society and non-state actors has been impressive all around the world. On 6 June, a worldwide citizens’ debate on climate change and energy took place in 70 countries, including Cambodia, and showed a general sense of concern about the impact of climate change among citizens and a willingness to act both collectively and individually. In Paris, we expect several thousand of observers to turn-up for the COP 21 conference and we look forward to the presentation of concrete initiatives already undertaken by NGOs or city governments to reduce emissions.
Cambodia will also be visible in Paris. As you may know, His Majesty King Sihamoni is leading the Cambodian delegation in Paris and will deliver remarks today during the official opening. Cambodia’s civil society is also represented : to give you one example, two members of the Prey Lang Community Network who will receive the prestigious Equator Prize 2015 for their work in preserving Prey Lang forest.
In Cambodia, there has also been a significant level of mobilization from the Royal government and from the civil society. Cambodia’s iNDC was submitted in due time to the UN, covering both mitigation and adaptation measures. On the mitigation side, Cambodia has committed to an overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 27% by 2030 compared to a business as usual scenario and an increase in forest cover, up to 60% by 2030. On the adaptation side, it puts the emphasis on several fields like agriculture, infrastructures, health and forestry with the aim of achieving greater resilience. These commitments are all the more welcomed since over the past few months we have seen many reports highlighting the vulnerability of Cambodia to climate disruption and there is now an urgent need to take action.
As you know, climate change negotiations are technical, complex and frankly quite dry. This can lead us sometimes to forget the real implications behind them. This is why tonight we decided that it would be interesting, and hopefully more entertaining, to show a movie illustrating climate change in a historical perspective. Ice and Sky tells the story of Dr. Claude Lorius, member of the French Academy of Science, who dedicated most of his professional life to document the historical evolutions of our climate, based on the study of glaciers in the Antarctic. Through his research, he contributed to revealing the impact of human activity on climate change, which nobody can deny now. This movie was directed by Luc Jacquet whose “March of the Penguins” was a hit in 2005 and won the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2006.
In concluding, let us hope for the best possible compromise in Paris since everybody will benefit from it or lose if we have no agreement.
I thank you again for your attention and I hope you will enjoy the movie.