Jean-Paul Chanteguet: ‘Laurent Fabius must stay on as minister of foreign affairs post-COP21’

Laurent Fabius [UNclimatechange/Flickr]

The follow-up to COP21 will be crucial, the president of France’s National Assembly’s Environment Committee told Aline Robert, the Editor-in-Chief of EURACTIV France.

He hopes to see Laurent Fabius stay on as France’s foreign affairs minister in 2016.

Jean-Paul Chanteguet is the President of the Environment Committee in the French National Assembly and a Socialist MP for the Indre department.

You presented a resolution on COP21 to the National Assembly. What is the point of this contribution just days before the conference begins?

We represent the regions, and the fight against climate change will take place at the level of local authorities, businesses and civil society.

On this basis, we are calling for France to increase its ambition for the follow-up to the COP 21. Before 11 December, the priority is to create a consensus to reach a global agreement, and France is in the role of a facilitator. But then the level of ambition has to change, and we offered proposals for how this could be done.

What form should this new mobilisation take?

The Paris agreement will apply from 2020. If we waste the next four years, we will lose the fight against climate change! As the de facto leader, France has to keep pushing the climate agenda. I also hope that Laurent Fabius will stay on as minister of foreign affairs to shoulder this responsibility; the international community would expect nothing less.

What are your priorities to ensure post-COP21 is a success?

France has to find the resources to fund the climate aid it promised, particularly for adaptation to climate change. Loans are out of the question here: developing countries need grants. President François Hollande said as much at the UN General Assembly in September. But if we cannot find the capital to finance climate adaptation, we will hardly be in a position to reach our CO2 emissions reductions objectives.

The merger between the French Development Agency (AFD) and the public financing group Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) takes France in the wrong direction in this regard.

Yes, they are merging the AFD, with the CDC to bolster its capital and increase its capacity to provide loans. But we urgently need grants. For this to happen, the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) needs to become a reality. It is still only hypothetical, but it could bring in €1.4 billion. And we must secure large amounts of resources through the auctioning of quotas from the carbon market. But for this to work, CO2 prices need to be higher.

The EU has decided to set aside a portion of its carbon market quotas; do you think this will be enough?

The signal price of €8 per tonne is meaningless. It is far too low. Even in France we have fixed a higher price, with the Energy Climate Contribution: €22 in 2016, €30.50 in 2017 and up to €100 in 2030. This sets our trajectory, but we have to establish coherence between policies at European and national levels.

We proposed to establish a price corridor, with a baseline price and a price cap, as suggested under the Canfin Grandjean report.

Many people are calling for a carbon price. Is this possible at an international level?

At a global level, no. But we could create an avant-garde climate club, which is what we are proposing. This would include the countries with the highest emissions which are also those that already have CO2 markets: China, the United States and the EU for example.

The initiative would have to be taken from 2016. We are gaining momentum now, and it can’t be allowed to go to waste!

France has tried to mobilise its allies on the climate, but other countries, like Qatar, have avoided committing to anything at all…

The fact that the Gulf States have made no commitments in their national contributions (INDCs) is very telling. Not everyone in the international community has a stake in the fight against climate change. The initial error was to place the subject of the climate under the umbrella of the environment, because it concerns energy, the economy and geopolitics. The issue has to be re-politicised, and we have to stop pretending that everyone is invested in the struggle. This is simply not the case.

Who should take charge of the fight against climate change?

It is time to recognise the role of non-state actors in the negotiations. For me, this COP hinges on four issues: the final text, the commitments of the countries (INDCs), financing and the agenda for the solutions. The last issue is the most important.

The UN process is faltering. Climate governance has existed for more than 20 years, yet the concentration of CO2 in the air continues to rise. As I see it, we have to institutionalise the participation of local communities, companies and citizens in the negotiation process. This should be one of the solutions in the Paris agreement. The motivation is there, but we have to find a way to coordinate the action. 

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