France warns cli­mate change threat­ens se­cu­rity


Cli­mate change is a threat to in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity, France’s in­flu­en­tial En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Se­go­lene Royal warned Satur­day — adopt­ing an un­usu­ally hawk­ish stance as she heads to the U.S. to push for a global deal on re­duc­ing emis­sions at a land­mark Paris con­fer­ence this year.

She will have to push es­pe­cially hard in Wash­ing­ton, but she rel­ishes the chal­lenge. Royal, long­time for­mer part­ner of Pres­i­dent Fran- cois Hol­lande and one of France’s most ex­pe­ri­enced fe­male politi­cians, is play­ing a key role ahead of U.N. cli­mate talks in Paris in De­cem­ber.

Amid skep­ti­cism in the Repub­li­can-led U.S. Congress about the science of cli­mate change and re­sis­tance to a legally bind­ing treaty, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama also re­cently ar­gued that ris­ing sea lev­els and re­source short­ages could threaten the readi­ness of U.S. forces and ag­gra­vate in­sta­bil­ity around the globe.

“If ev­ery­one re­al­izes

... that the cost of in­ac­tion is much higher than the cost of ac­tion, then I think we can con­vince some mem­bers of Congress who are still ret­i­cent,” Royal told The As­so­ci­ated Press in an in­ter­view in Paris on Satur­day.

She said Obama was “right” to use the na­tional se­cu­rity ar­gu­ment, one rarely in heard in Europe, where peo­ple largely ac­cept hu­man­ity’s re­spon­si­bil­ity for global warm­ing.

“The cli­mate ques­tion is also at the heart of the se­cu­rity ques­tion,” Royal said, not­ing in par­tic­u­lar the grow­ing num­ber of refugees flee- ing cli­matic dis­as­ters and chronic short­ages.

While France is push­ing for a legally bind­ing deal, Royal sug­gested open­ness to a backup plan that could in­volve reg­u­la­tory mea­sures not sub­ject to full Con­gres­sional rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

One key mo­ment in the buildup to the Paris con­fer­ence comes next week: U.N. ne­go­ti­a­tions in Bonn, Ger­many, seen as a test of how close or far coun­tries are from a deal.

Royal stressed the need to speed up and to re­duce the size of the draft doc­u­ment — cur­rently around 80 pages, to in­clude the wishes of as many coun­tries as pos­si­ble. France is hop­ing for a fi­nal doc­u­ment closer to 20 pages that fo­cuses on ar­eas of agree­ment.

She also ar­gued that it’s ur­gent to re­duce the “abyss” be­tween poor coun­tries suf­fer­ing from the ef­fects of global warm­ing and richer coun­tries that are caus­ing them.

That gap has led to fail­ure in past cli­mate talks, no­tably in Copen­hagen in 2009.

Ne­go­tia­tors are try­ing to learn from past mis­takes to im­prove chances for an agree­ment in Paris, which would mark the first time all coun­tries agree to do some­thing to limit emis­sions of global warm­ing gases, pri­mar­ily car­bon diox­ide, from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

Cli­mate changes in re­cent decades have led to flood­ing of coastal ar­eas, dis­rup­tions to agri­cul­ture and drink­ing wa­ter and the spread of dis­eases.

Royal and France are try­ing to get com­pa­nies aboard a cli­mate deal, ar­gu­ing that it makes longterm eco­nomic sense to re­duce emis­sions. This has caused protest from NGOs who say it’s hyp­o­crit­i­cal to seek spon­sor­ship from oil and con­struc­tion com­pa­nies whose profit model de­pends on emis­sions.

“We must put ev­ery­one in the game,” Royal said. She ar­gued that gov­ern­ments must “pre­pare the post-petroleum era, and have the will and courage to say it.”

Royal heads Thurs­day for the United States where she will meet En­ergy Sec­re­tary Ernest Moniz as well as Sen­a­tors Ed Markey, Bar­bara Boxer, Shel­don White­house and Brian Schatz.

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