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Climate change is not a fatality

  • Published at 12:01 am October 22nd, 2016
Climate change is not a fatality

When my country France decided to host last year’s UN climate conference, COP21, we had one major goal: Leading the international community to commit itself to launching the global transition towards a low carbon economy.

This was the best plan we had to maintain global temperatures below the target of 2°C or even 1.5°C by the end of the century when compared to pre-industrial levels. We reached our goal, managing to create momentum in Paris in December 2015 that led to the Paris Agreement.

After the COP21, France decided to put all its efforts into following up on the process of adopting the Paris Agreement and its ratification. At the United Nations headquarters in New York City, on 22 April 2016 -- also known as International Earth Day -- we saw 175 countries sign onto the agreement. And later, on October 5, 75 countries, including Bangladesh, representing 58.84% of global greenhouse gas emissions, finally ratified the Agreement.

The double target of 55 ratifications accounting for at least 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions was achieved: This means the Paris Agreement will enter into force on November 4, 2016. Our diplomacy has sustained this challenge and we feel very proud of this success.

Now in Morocco, the global community will have to turn this success into action.

This is why last Sunday, on October 16, the Embassy of France in Bangladesh held a workshop in Dhaka called: “Climate change is not a fatality.”

Less than one month before the next UN climate meeting, COP22 in Marrakesh, we wanted to take stock of the decisions and actions implemented since the Paris Agreement in December 2015. We wanted to showcase some of the solutions developed by France, Bangladesh, India, and the Netherlands (both at public and private levels) in order to handle the challenge of climate change.

We must act in order to break the vicious circle induced by the increase of the global temperature in order to preserve a sustainable environment. Now we know our global responsibility. The industrial revolution is over; pointing out how developed countries are mostly responsible for emissions is no solution since they did not know the consequences of their actions. Upholding one’s responsibility today and implementing a global low carbon economy which is circular (meaning resources are re-used and conserved as much as possible) is the solution.

At the French Embassy on October 16, we focused on various initiatives launched within or outside of the Lima Paris Action Agenda (an undertaking by both the Peruvian and French COP Presidencies that previously held the UN climate talks) in order to create an environmental-friendly society and to address climate challenge.

All of them are highly valuable solutions: The Delta Coalition led by the Netherlands and now handed over to Bangladesh, within which 12 countries joined efforts to increase the resilience of cities situated on delta; the International Solar Alliance led by India and France, which now includes about 80 countries, with the aim of mobilising USD 1 trillion of investments by 2030 for developing solar energy; the Efficiency for Access Coalition (E4A), led by IDCOL in Bangladesh, aimed at accelerating universal access to clean energy, also by 2030. These initiatives illustrate how the entire planet is moving forward at all levels (states, business sector, civil society, etc), to transform the world into a sustainable one.

Climate change is not only of concern to governments: It is a concern for everyone because we are all greenhouse gas emitters on some level. But the fact is, the only way to push progress toward a circular low carbon economy is to make it more and more expensive for people or companies to pollute our planet. And this has to be led by government regulations first.

Carbon pricing is one way among others to do this. Many countries are committed to shaping a new legal framework, which would engage all actors constructively, through various incentives. This framework would begin with financial incentives, a top priority to achieve this global climate target.

This is a revolution. Bangladesh, for example, decided on the target of producing 2000 MW renewable energy by 2021; and France adopted a new law for energy transition and green growth. This law sets up a comprehensive action-oriented strategic framework in order to move to a low carbon economic model.

This law is supported by another law, the Law for the Restoration of Biodiversity, which critically protects our biodiversity. This is important because, as we observe day after day, many species are not only starting to disappear, but have already disappeared from our environment.

We all want the COP22 to be the “Implementation COP” -- the COP where plans move to action. France and Morocco have worked hard together for the success of this upcoming UN climate conference, the first one since the Paris Agreement. We all are optimistic that our momentum will lead the world to uphold its responsibilities, on behalf of the future generations.

Sophie Aubert is the Ambassador of France to Bangladesh.

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