Copenhagen Conference (December 7 - 18, 2009)

France’s position in the international negotiations on climate change

France is fully invested in the success of the process that must lead us to a comprehensive, ambitious agreement in Copenhagen to combat climate change. For France, Copenhagen represents an opportunity to define—for all countries, and on the basis of an equitable sharing of efforts and new forms of international organization—the rules for instituting truly sustainable economic and social development that take environmental constraints such as greenhouse gas emissions and the exhaustion of resources into account.

France’s commitment to success in Copenhagen is inextricably tied to that of the European Union, which is negotiating with a single voice in the framework of the UNFCCC and developing its positions in this framework during the European Council. With the “energy climate” package, the EU has proven its ability to establish policies and measurements making it possible to achieve the ambitious objectives it is set for itself with respect to climate change (20% fewer emissions in 2020 than in 1990, with the possibility of 30% fewer in the event of a satisfactory agreement).

For France within the EU, the Copenhagen agreement must first and foremost strive for the global objective of limiting warming to less than 2ºC above the pre-industrial period. This objective is dictated by science, and it means that we must reach a “global peak in emissions” as swiftly as possible and reduce them by 2050 to less than half of what they were in 1990.

To achieve this global objective, France wants the Copenhagen agreement to establish specific, ambitious and balanced approaches to the five categories below:

1. Emissions reduction (mitigation), broken down into three types of commitments:

- for all countries: national growth plans of low carbon intensity, permitting a substantial reduction in emissions.

- for developed countries: a binding commitment on medium-term objectives to reduce their emissions by 25-40% by 2020 from 1990 levels, consistent with a credible path to reducing emissions by 80% in 2050; this effort must be comparable to the effort made by the EU.

- for the most advanced developing countries: a commitment to significantly decrease emissions (within a range of 15-3%) with respect to the current trend, as well as actions and measures to reduce emissions, which will receive financial and technological support.

- For the least advanced countries, notably in Africa, and small developing island nations, the establishment of specific support measures.

2. Adaptation to climate change: a specific international framework must be put in place. An “adaptation” package must make it possible to respond rapidly to the needs of developing countries by assuring adequate coordination with existing stakeholders.

3. Technical cooperation: The Copenhagen agreement must open the way to processes permitting the accelerated deployment of low-carbon technologies (trapping and storing carbon, renewable energies, nuclear, etc.) as well as a sharing of best practices, notably for a more rational use of energy (energy efficiency).

4. New financing for actions combating climate change: Copenhagen must define the modalities for financing projects and establishing a financial architecture. France champions the principle of a universal contribution such as the one proposed by Mexico to support actions and measures. It hopes that future financing mechanisms will be based on existing bilateral and multilateral instruments, with a central role for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a financial instrument of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

5. Coordinated action on forests, intended both to reduce deforestation and forest degradation (“REDD” mechanism) and to promote their sustainable management. France is also attached to seeing the agricultural sector included in the Copenhagen agreement as a means of attenuation in its own right.


In order for these policies and commitments to be implemented smoothly, France urges the creation of a Measurable, Reportable and Verifiable (MRV) mechanism for the actions that are undertaken. Like all countries strongly engaged in the negotiations, France wants such a mechanism in order to ensure that countries that are not making comparable commitments do not get a free ride. In this regard, France, together with its European partners, is not ruling out the use of a carbon inclusion mechanism (CIM) and hopes for a system to resolve disputes inspired by that of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

To multiply the actions decided at the State level and improve policy effectiveness, France wants the Copenhagen agreement to be taken into account and to play a specific role in cities and provincial governments, working closely with civil society (NGOs, businesses, etc.).

At the global level, in order to guarantee consistent, effective action, France urges the creation of a World Environment Organization (WEO). It would be designed both to monitor the implementation of commitments taken in Copenhagen and to serve as a lynchpin, uniting all the provisions that are now dispersed. It would also help strengthen the environmental pillar of international law.

For more information:

- Brochure on France’s international action on global warming (16 page report - PDF)

- Environmental diplomacy section on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

- Website of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

- Website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

- Gateway to the UN System’s Work on Climate Change

(Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Dernière modification : 13/11/2009

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