Remarks by French Ambassador at 10th Sustainability Summit

CII 10th Sustainability Summit - Remarks by H.E. Mr François Richier, Ambassador of France to India

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CII 10th Sustainability Summit

New Delhi, 15 September 2015

1) Climate change is a challenge and a threat to economic development. Our expectation for COP21 is to achieve a global and dynamic agreement.

  • The Paris Conference is a challenge. France’s election as chair of COP21 was an easy one because there were no other competitors! France has its own views on the matter. We think that we have to act. We have a specific situation in terms of carbon emissions, one of the lowest amongst developed countries. We will be chair of COP21. This gives us a specific status. We are impartial, opened to everyone’s views.
  • We have a strong and regular dialogue with India on this issue, which also focuses on solutions: COP21 was discussed during PM Modi’s visit to France in April.
  • What would be the shape of the agreement we aim at reaching at the end of the year, without prejudice of the undergoing negotiation?
  1. A universal and differentiated agreement. It cannot be a “one size fits all” agreement. We should aim at capping the temperature raise to below 2°C. The agreement must be balanced, and effectively address both mitigation and adaptation. The agreement must also be a dynamic one: which means that Paris will not be the end of the story. The agreement will provide the conditions under which the parties, under the United Nations Convention on Climate change, will address this issue in the long-run.
  2. National contributions: all countries have to provide their national commitment to limit carbon emissions and to adapt to climate change and requirements in technologies and finance.
  3. Financial package: it is clear that developing countries will need financial support. A Green Climate Fund has been established to this aim. It will be constituted by contributions from developed countries. There is more than 10 billion dollars in the fund. France has committed one billion dollars, which has already been disbursed to the fund so it can start its operations as soon as possible.
  4. Contributions from other stakeholders: scientists, subnational entities, NGOs, civil society; and of course, decisively, the corporate sector, which could contribute to produce solutions and put new ideas – if possible out of the box ideas – on the table, including technological ones.
  • On all these aspects, negotiations are ongoing. What is our method? We have decided to hold two tracks of negotiations, which are connected to each other. First with the negotiators, as part of the usual UN process. Second, we hold regular high level informal meetings on specific issues, where leaders at the ministerial level can address these issues. This aims at building a consensus well ahead of COP21. We do not want a last minute agreement. I have myself participated in such negotiations in New York in my previous postings, and I can tell you that a negotiation involving more than 190 countries take time.

2) Tackling climate change is compatible with economic development. They go hand-in-hand.

  • It is not about pro-development and pro-environment fighting against each other. We are in a position to achieve an agreement that is in favor of economic development and growth. An agreement that would hamper economic development efforts is unacceptable.
  • Energy is key. India has set itself ambitious targets in terms of renewable energy. Prime Minister Modi announced 100 GW of solar by 2022 which is very relevant to tap India’s potential in this sector. French corporates are ready to pursue their contributions to this endeavour, as well as in other renewable energy sources such as wind and hydro.
  • Nuclear energy technologies are part of the solutions. Prime Minister Modi described nuclear energy as part of India’s clean energy efforts. The contribution of nuclear energy in the energy output is relatively low today (4% roughly), but is set to increase, with the government’s plans to triple the installed nuclear capacity within the next 10 years.
  • In India, coal will remain an important part of the energy mix. There are risks associated with this, but we can find solution to address these risks. If coal based power plants are to be built in India – and this is the case and will remain the case for a long time, at least technology should provide solutions to address and reduce these risks, including these of carbon emissions. France just decided to focus its export credits only for coal power projects equipped with clean coal technologies.
  • Coping with climate change necessitates a change in the daily habits of people, especially in the West. We need self-limitation in terms of consumption. This applies to energy efficiency for example. It is a social thing. Addressing climate change will improve the quality of life as well. Quality of life is an important component of Prime Minister Modi’s smart cities project. France is committed to contribute to this visionary initiative.
  • Climate change and economic development: the agreement at the end of the year is being negotiated as a pro-growth agreement. PM Modi wants to develop ‘Make in India’ with, in his own words “zero defect, zero effect”. This is very important: it is a completely different view on economic growth. It is about a different path of growth compared to what has been done in developed countries since the industrial revolution or in China.
  • India has already a good story to tell to the world on climate change, thanks to the efforts of the current government. India will definitely have a leadership on this issue in the next few months and years. COP21 wants to operationalize what PM Modi calls a “paradigm shift” on climate change: to focus more on “green credits” rather than “carbon credits”. Prime minister also announced a “consortium of nations” on solar energy, which France stands ready to support as chair of COP21. This is the kind of leadership we need.

3) The role of private businesses is key.

  • Private companies are part of our strategy to COP21. We have already held one “Climate Business Summit” in Paris in May. A number of Indian companies were present. We intend to hold another one in New York in the coming weeks. These events are important for us to understand better the private sector’s expectations. We welcome all contribution for the private sector, and we have already received inputs from Indian companies. At the global level, COP21 will be an opportunity to send a clear signal to private businesses on their commitment to provide a positive and stable business environment.
  • Private companies have the investment capacity and they own technologies needed to make growth sustainable. There is a long-term interest for private businesses to build on sustainable growth. They are central to creating wealth and jobs.
  • Let me give you an example in the field of renewable energy. To ensure speedy development of renewable energy, one key element is bringing down the cost of capital. The agreement at the end of the year, along with the appropriate regulations by national governments, will create an environment that will contribute to allow lending agencies to bring down the cost of capital for renewable energy projects. As I said earlier, the Indian government has already taken strong action to provide a framework for the development of renewables. The idea of PM Modi to set up a consortium of nations in the solar sector is also contributing to this.
  • Another important cost is related to technologies. INDCs are an important element in this regard to help identify technologies needed by countries, be it on energy storage, grid balancing, etc. At the same time, private companies will be encouraged to put in place R&D cooperation for new technologies in renewables, bringing down the cost of technologies as well.
  • As regards the financial sector, the development of green bond is a key element. There again, the market is developing, including in India. Finally, the inclusion of climate risk and carbon presence in ratings, in insurance risk assessments and thus in decisions to invest, is important as well.
  • Of course, we’re in a global economy, an open economy and businesses obviously have freedom. It is up to them to understand what it means. It is also up to them to make investments which can be profitable for the planet and for the businesses themselves.

Last modified on 05/10/2015

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