Paris Agreement mastermind says world heading for 3°C rise

Laurent Fabius, who chaired Cop21 in the French capital in 2015, said 'urgent' action was needed now on climate change

Laurent Fabius, former foreign minister of France and Cop21 President, called for urgent action to get the world back on track to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Getty
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The man who helped to strike the 2015 Paris Agreement said that the deal did spur action on climate change, although the world has fallen short of meeting its goals.

But former foreign minister of France Laurent Fabius, who chaired Cop21, where the agreement was finalised, called for “urgent” action to get the world back on target.

Speaking at Cop28 in Dubai, he said that the summit could be a global success if the conference's initial wins, particularly on the issue of loss and damage, were followed up by progress in other areas.

“Paris is a landmark, it is a framework and all the people that I've seen today say that, 'We're all children of the Paris Agreement,'” he said.

Mr Fabius said that before Paris, average global temperatures were set to rise by about 4°C above pre-industrial levels, but now the likelihood was of somewhere between 2.8°C and 3°C.

He said that currently “all the figures are not good” and that scientists indicated that the world was “off track” to meet its climate targets.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber heralds 'momentous few days ahead' at Cop28

Dr Sultan Al Jaber heralds 'momentous few days ahead' at Cop28

“We have to be 1.5 [°C], which means we must act, not only largely, but urgently,” he said.

“Not in 20 years. Right now. I'm sure that having discussed this with [Cop28 President Dr] Sultan Al Jaber, he knows that.”

Mr Fabius said that in terms of action to limit climate change, the world had to be “very clear about what's possible and not to delay it”.

“Companies, governments and ordinary people have to know they have progressed to replace fossil fuels by renewables,” he said.

“We have to insist on that. It will be part and parcel of the success of this Cop.”

Mr Fabius, who is the president of France's Constitutional Council, said that the start of Cop28 “has been good”.

He highlighted the action on the loss and damage fund that was set up at Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt last year to ensure that wealthier nations helped poorer countries to cope with the harm caused by climate change.

Pledges exceeding $700 million have been announced for the fund during Cop28, with donors including Germany and the UAE both contributing $100 million each.

However, referring to issues that remain on the table at Cop28, Mr Fabius said that there remained “two or three big ones” to forge an agreement on.

“We have the question of fossil fuels; we have the question of adaptation; and we have more generally the question of finance. We need public and private finance,” he said.

A key point of interest is on what the final text from Cop28 will say with respect to fossil fuels, in particular whether it will include a commitment to phasing them out rather than phasing them down.

On climate finance, campaigners have said that developed nations have fallen short of delivering $100 billion each year to assist developing nations to limit or mitigate their emissions and to adapt to climate change that was promised at Cop15 in Copenhagen in 2015.

There have been concerns expressed that much of the finance that has materialised has been in the form of loans rather than grants, which climate campaigners said could risk pitching poorer countries deeper into debt.

“I hope they will do their best; I'm sure they will do their best,” Mr Fabius said of the Cop28 negotiations.

“We have to deal with it because it's so important, not only for the success of this Cop but for the climate problem.

“The initial decisions, which have been good, could be pursued by a more general approach, particularly on the problems raised and it would make it a global success.”

Updated: December 09, 2023, 5:36 AM