Laurent Fabius officially elected as President of COP21

© Benjamin Géminel
© Benjamin Géminel

30 Nov Laurent Fabius officially elected as President of COP21

Laurent Fabius was officially elected as President of COP21 today at 10 a.m. by the 1,300 delegates gathered in the plenary room “La Loire”. From the hands of his predecessor, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, President of COP20, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs received the wooden mallet that he will use to declare the agreement adopted on 11 December.

Extract of the speech by the President of COP21
“The first responsibility of the French Presidency was to host you. Everything has been designed to enable you to work in favourable material conditions, in an environmentally friendly setting. A specific space, the Climate Generations areas, has been reserved for civil society, for we wanted the conference site to reflect the spirit of this conference, which will attach great importance to the commitments of non-governmental actors in the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda.

The second and most important responsibility of the French Presidency is to facilitate reaching an agreement at the end of these eleven days.

I will summarize this in four words: listening, transparency, ambition and compromise.
Listening: I will listen to everyone, as I have striven to do from the outset.
Transparency: we have no hidden agenda or secret plan.
Ambition: the stakes are too high and the climate threat too great for us to be content with a minimalistic agreement.
Compromise: to bring viewpoints together and facilitate their convergence.

On this opening day of the Paris Conference, success has not yet been achieved, but it is within reach. It is up to us to show that we are equal to our responsibilities, so that I can say the two awaited words: mission accomplished.”

The UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, then declared: “In the face of adversity, in the face of threats of many kinds, Paris must be where the world unites as one. […] never before has a responsibility so great been in the hands of so few. The world is looking to you. The world is counting on you.”

Prince Charles then spoke in French, paying homage to the victims of the Paris attacks, then in English, emphasizing that climate change “threatens our ability to feed ourselves; to remain healthy and safe […] and to avert the humanitarian disaster of mass migration and increasing conflict.” He warned: “In damaging our climate we become the architects of our own destruction.”