APPEAL/François Hollande’s Special Envoy for the protection of the planet, Nicolas Hulot, strives for a successful COP21. He pinpoints the crux – money.
Your Foundation has taken stock. The commitments announced to date by countries (including Monaco) are not sufficient to achieve the objective of stabilising global warming at 2°C. Are you optimistic about the success of COP 21?
At the Paris Conference, for the first time 195 countries will put quantified commitments on the table. This is unprecedented in the history of the international community. But I fear that they are not up to the challenges. My foundation’s experts estimate that with the contributions submitted to date, which represent over 60% of total emissions, we are heading towards 3 to 4 degrees warming, well below the 2 degree target. We must take advantage of the few remaining weeks to convince everyone of the need to remain ambitious. But nothing has been decided. At this stage it’s better to be concerned rather than be too optimistic and have cold water poured on our hopes in the end, as in Copenhagen.”
It is imperative to have the agreement of the most polluting countries – China, USA, Canada etc. How can we trigger a shock with the heads of state? How can we get a firm commitment from them?
Since Copenhagen, the position of the two highest emitting countries – the United States and China – has moved in the right direction. China has taken a real turning point in its energy policy and committed to reach peak emissions before 2030, even if we would have liked it to undertake to move faster. The USA has committed to at least 26% reduction in 2025 – they could have done more but that is already a turning point. Other countries such as Canada and Australia have made clearly disappointing contributions. I hope all the cards are not on the table and some ambitions can be revised upwards, before or just after Paris. If each of these major countries made 1% more effort per year we would be back on track for 2 degrees. The shock you mentioned could come from an initiative brought by some countries in the G20, which accounts for 75% of global emissions. Moreover, there is a G20 meeting a few weeks before the Paris conference and that will be a critical time.
If the COP fails, what do you believe will happen?
If the COP fails we will all be losers. But I also stress the need to not focus solely on the reduction commitments. Because what counts the most are the tools put in place to meet them. Will the countries really implement the national policies necessary to reverse the trend? Will they stop fossil fuel subsidies? Finally, will they take initiatives to generalise the price of carbon e.g. via a carbon corridor? The financing component is also essential. The promise made in Copenhagen to mobilise $100 billion a year (public and private) from 2020 to help developing countries to adapt must be kept in Paris. It’s only 0.2% of the OECD countries’GDP but it will enable us to trigger 6% of GDP in climate investment in developing countries. That is the price of solidarity and a lasting future for everyone.
Can we believe in the famous European financial transactions tax (FTT)? What form do you think it will take?
It is an old, well-worn subject. But either we get there, or we will never make it. President François Hollande has, moreover, just reminded us that it is an essential potential source of funding for the Paris Agreement and that the FTT architecture therefore needs to be formally acknowledged prior to Paris 2015. 11 European countries are working on it and could succeed in the coming weeks. That would be a great sign before Paris. Because if we don’t get out of financial orthodoxy, how do you expect us to meet the adaptation and development needs of the most vulnerable countries who are paying for the perverse effects of our growth model? I have frequent discussions on this subject with the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister in charge of the Budget. I think there is real convergence on the idea of an FTT with the broadest possible base, and therefore including derivatives.
_Interview by Milena Radoman.