Former COP president becomes UN environment rep

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) talks with COnstitutional COuncil President Laurent Fabius (R), Paris, 6 November. [Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA]

Laurent Fabius, the former French foreign minister who presided the COP21, has been named UN high representative for environmental governance, two years after chairing the Paris Agreement negotiations. EURACTIV France reports.

Two years after the Pars Agreement, its former president, French politician Laurent Fabius, arrives at COP23 with a new title.

“The Paris Agreement is a historical landmark,” he said in a press release by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

While COP23, chaired by the island state of Fiji, happens in Bonn, Germany, the former French minister for foreign affairs has been officially named high representative for environmental governance.

“The persistency and professionalism demonstrated by Mr Laurent Fabius while chairing incredibly difficult negotiations to reach the Paris Agreement are what we need to engage governments to unite and act for the sake of future generations,” commented Erik Solheim, UNEP’s director.

A global deal for the environment

The honorific title received by Fabius should enable him to keep signatories mobilised towards their goal.

Indeed, since 2015, the commitments made in Paris to maintain the global rise in temperature below 2°C have not been followed by the necessary actions from the 195 states members of the UN.

According to Laurent Fabius, “There is a gap between on the one hand the commitments made by member states and on the other, what really needs to be done to stay below the 2 degrees, or even the 1,5 degrees temperature rise”, he told French daily Le Parisien ahead of the COP23.

Fabius’ lobbying efforts could start immediately, especially towards the United States, who announced their intention to retract from the Paris Agreement.

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“The decision made by the US under Trump is extremely negative, but COPs are also the occasion to mobilise the world around our objectives”, he said.

Another work-in-progress is the global pact for the environment.

This would be the first binding treaty codifying environmental rights into international law. Laurent Fabius presented the idea in June. This first draft now needs to be debated by the UN’s General Assembly.

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