BY BRENDAN MONTAGUE AND KYLA MANDEL IN PARIS
David Cameron blustered through his three minute speech before 146 fellow world leaders in Paris tonight for the COP21 negotiations by imagining future generations asking “what was so difficult” about preventing catastrophic climate change.
The prime minister employed rhetorical dexterity to avoid any firm commitments on behalf of the UK - avoiding any mention of carbon capture and storage, solar and wind energy or the cuts to subsidies his government has inflicted over the coming months.
He said: “Let's just imagine for a moment: what we would have to say to our grand children if we failed? We’d have to say, 'it was all too difficult'. They’d reply, 'what was it that was so difficult when the world was in peril?'”
John Sauven, head of Greenpeace UK, told the Guardian: “David Cameron has made a passionate appeal to fellow world leaders for a robust climate deal. The prime minister must now persuade his Chancellor to support it with real action back home.
“The UK’s pioneering climate targets and the recent coal phase-out plan show that where Britain leads other countries follow. But we need to see the same UK leadership in the race to develop and invest in renewable technologies.
“This is what Britain’s leading businesses, scientists, and the government’s own advisers are urging Cameron to do - he should listen.”
The Twitter commentariat was rendered incapable of finding soundbites to fit into 140 characters, while reporters were left bereft with absolutely nothing new to report.
Asad Rehman, the international climate spokesperson from Friends of the Earth posted: “It was cold in this huge airport hanger but hot air & hypocrisy from Cameron has helped warm up the place.”
Cameron was among the world leaders who gathered in Paris today to negotiate a new and universal climate change agreement, making COP21 the largest group of leaders ever to attend a UN event in a single day.
Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC told the opening ceremony that “the eyes of millions of people” around the world were watching the politicians meeting in Paris.
She said: “You have the opportunity, in fact the responsibility, to finalize an agreement that enables the achievement of national climate change goals, that delivers the necessary support for the developing world and that catalyses continuously increasing ambition and action by all.”
The past year had been a turning point and and the world was now finally moving towards a low-carbon, resilient future, she argued. “This turning point is truly remarkable, but the task is not done,” she continued.
“It is up to you to both capture this progress and chart an unequivocal path forward, with a clear destination, agreed milestones and a predictable timeline that responds to the demands of science and the urgency of the challenge.”
A total of 184 countries responsible for 95 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions had delivered their national climate action plans to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) before the summit opened.
Voice of Ambition
Laurent Fabius, the COP21 President and French Foreign Minister, called on governments to step up their efforts. “The stakes are too high, and the menace of climate change is too great for us to be content with a minimalistic agreement,” he said.
“The heads of state and government who have come to Paris have come to express the voice of ambition.”
Thousands of mayors and regional governments announced their commitment to the essential economic and social transformation to low-carbon, sustainable growth and development ahead of COP21.