France has been a leading nation in climate change negotiations in the recent past. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a national carbon tax on global-warming pollutants. Generally, he recognizes that “We are on the road to failure…Time is not on our side.” He has even gone so far as to suggest the creation of a new international organisation to deal with climate change. But after major losses to his party in regional elections earlier this year, the government has been backpedaling on things like the carbon tax.
But running up to the Bonn Climate Change Talks (31 May to 11 June), France has continued to organize summits and partnerships striving to move forward the UNFCCC climate change negotiation process. Prime among these have been: 1. the Oslo-Paris REDD negotiating process and 2. the Africa-France Summit.
Paris-Oslo process was initiated by France and Norway to build on progress made at the Copenhagen last December towards an international mechanism to fund forest protection. The program — called REDD Plus, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation — will encourage rich nations to voluntarily finance forest-protecting projects while coordinating that aid to avoid waste and ensure transparency.
During the last meetings of the Paris-Oslo process on 27 May 2010 in Oslo more than $4 billion had been pledged by developing nations to kick-start international REDD+ efforts aimed at halting deforestation and restoring forests in developing countries. Effectively, the feeling is that with money on the table and the urgency to halt GHG emissions from the clearing and degradation of tropical forests, REDD+ should move ahead even in the absence of a new global climate agreement. But there is some concern from NGOs that currently REDD+ lacks indigenous participation and transparency.
France has been taking an active role in brokering relations between Africa and EU-nations. The Africa-France Summit convened from 31 May to 1 June in Nice, France. The Summit addressed the theme of “climate and development.” A main goal of including reconciling climate change with development, poverty reduction, and food security was put forth. European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, took part in the Summit. He was adamant that common solutions could come under the broader African-EU Strategic Partnership.
The UNFCC session in Bonn marks the resumption of the climate negotiations within the UN framework. France believes that the UNFCCC should remain central to the negotiations and benefit form the contributions of smaller initiatives, allowing advanced progress to be made on certain tracks of the overall discussion.
Now the world waits to see the effect of the talks France has helped to broker in past months.