On 12 May 2015, H.E. Mr. Thierry Dana, Ambassador of France to Japan, delivered a lecture at UNU on climate change and the key approaches to tackling the issue at national and international levels. His lecture was part of the UNU Ambassador Lecture Series, a forum that provides an opportunity for UNU students, fellows and interns to directly engage with government officials on political, economic, and social issues.
Ambassador Dana began his lecture with a brief introduction to the current approaches to tackling climate change. The Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released in 2014, led to definitive recognition that climate change is a global problem and propelled worldwide action to mitigate its consequences. The Ambassador highlighted the French government’s success in reducing France’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 12% between 1990 and 2012, and its expected compliance with EU standards, committing itself to further reduce emissions by up to 40% by 2030.
Of the 70% of the total GHG emissions from France’s energy sector, the Ambassador recalled that roughly 80% of emissions are attributed to transportation, housing, and tertiary sectors, thereby compelling the French government to actively pursue a multi-actor dialogue involving all parts of society. The Ambassador indicated that a government bill on energy transition was currently being debated, which would modify France’s energy mix in favour of renewable energy sources, to represent 32% of its final energy consumption, and aim at reducing the consumption of fossil fuels by up to 30% by 2030. The shift to renewables is expected to halve France’s share of nuclear energy used in electricity production.
France is the Chair of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP21), and Ambassador Dana’s lecture outlined the French government’s four-pillar strategy for achieving COP21 success. He stressed how a binding intergovernmental agreement, coupled with national contributions, finance and technology transfers, and the Lima-Paris Action Agenda — involving all actors of the society and bringing innovation to the forefront of solutions — are key assets to create a successful plan to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The lecture concluded with a question-and-answer session that explored issues such as the role of the private sector and the importance of Japan’s contribution to climate action worldwide.