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New COP21 president sets agenda to build Paris Agreement momentum

The new President of the UN climate change process, French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, Ségolène Royal, on Monday February 22, 2016 visited the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany and underlined the need for continued momentum to build on the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement, which was reached in the French capital in December.

Ségolène Royal (left) and Christiana Figueres. Photo credit: newsroom.unfccc.int
Ségolène Royal (left) and Christiana Figueres. Photo credit: newsroom.unfccc.int

Following a meeting with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and other senior UN staff in the German city, President Royal outlined three top priorities for the remainder of the French Presidency: to ensure the swift signing, ratification and implementation of the Paris agreement; to accelerate the climate action coalitions agreed in Paris between governments, cities, business and investors; and to strengthen the link between climate change and sustainable development.

“We now have a concrete action agenda. People all over the world want to do concrete things, immediately. The key is to accelerate the wonderful coalitions that we agreed on Paris and move forward with those,” she said.

Important elements of the action agenda summed up by President Royal include the new solar alliance led by India and France, the geothermal alliance led by Iceland, a coalition to improve the energy efficiency of buildings; along with coalitions on risk prevention, agriculture, forests, water, oceans and putting a price on carbon.

It was her first visit to the UNFCCC secretariat since being appointed COP21 President by French President François Hollande. She replaces the former French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius, who recently assumed the new post of Presidency of the French Constitutional Court.

In a message to governments, President Royal pledged to build on the momentum of the Paris Agreement in conjunction with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, and to hand the Presidency to Morocco this November “under the best possible circumstances.”

Madame Royal praised the effort of government negotiators in securing the Paris Agreement and added: “I am also aware of the unprecedented momentum coming from civil society in the broadest sense to contribute to this mobilisation and provide practical solutions to address the challenge.”

Ms Figueres said: “I thank Minister Fabius again for his outstanding diplomacy and leadership as COP 21 President and I warmly welcome Minister Royal to the post. Her championship of climate action around the world is especially important this year as governments work to implement the full scope of the Paris Agreement as fast as possible.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited governments to formally sign the Paris Climate Change Agreement in New York on 22 April. “The world now has a universal, fair, flexible and durable climate agreement,” Mr. Ban said last week. “Our task is not over. In fact, it has just begun. In 2016, we must go from words to deeds. The 22 April signature ceremony is an essential step.”

The next major UN Climate Change Conference will take place in Bonn 16 – 26 May this year, and the next Conference of the Parties (COP22) will be held in Marrakech, Morocco 7 -18 Nov 2016.

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