13 July 2017

Africa: SA Has a Role to Play On Climate Change - French Ambassador

South Africa has a part to play in addressing climate change, the French Ambassador to South Africa Christophe Farnaud said.

Farnaud was speaking at an event organised by the South African Institute for International Affairs at Cape Town's Centre of the Book on Wednesday evening. His topic was, "The New France: what role in global politics?" in the wake of Emmanuel Macron's election as the new French president.

Macron's election and his En Marché! party's subsequent success in the French parliamentary election is considered as a reshaping of French politics, which has been dominated by the Socialist Party and the conservative Republican Party since the late 1960's.

Farnaud said South Africa played a key role in the establishment of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement was reached in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) between 179 countries and aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius through a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gasses.

Last month American reality TV star and president Donald Trump withdrew the United States, with China the world's largest polluter, from the Paris Agreement.

Farnaud said "collective action is the only solution for us all" with regards to climate change.

"Following the American decision by President Trump, Macron went and stated his support for the pact (the Paris Agreement)," said Farnaud.

He said Macron suggested a new summit.

"The idea is not to do it as France.

"South Africa has a part to play."

He said the world has realised that economic growth - of which he highlighted the importance - has a cost.

"What we talk about is sustainable growth. We have not yet found an absolute answer to that question."

Trump arrived in Paris on Thursday for discussions with Macron, with climate change believed to be top of the agenda.

International cooperation was the golden thread through Farnaud's wide-ranging speech.

"If we want a stable world, we need partners."

He said France counts Africa - not just Francophone Africa - among its partners.

"South Africa is on top of the list."

He said when they talk about South Africa, they talk of a strategic partner.

He also addressed Britain's decision to withdraw from the European Union, commonly known as Brexit.

"Brexit was not our preferred option," he said.

"What we have to do now is make it an opportunity more than a risk."

He said France wants the Brexit-negotiations concluded by 2019 and that these discussions are strictly coordinated to avoid bilateral discussions.

"We want to maintain a strong relationship with the UK," he said.

Farnaud did not address Macron's recent remarks about Africa that sparked outrage on social media.

Source: News24

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