SUBJECT :Climate 
French minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy Segolene Royal invokes Rabindranath Tagore as she urges nations to work together to save the planet from disastrous consequences of climate change. In an interview to TOI, Royal pitches for "clean transport and electricity" to wipe out air pollution. Excerpts:

Q. Do you think a strong climate deal is possible when developing countries insist on giving more emphasis to adaptation than on mitigation (emission cuts)?

A. You have to act on both fronts. India has already made significant efforts in this area. The goals set by the new government are ambitious. Prime Minister Modi announced the target of 100 gw from solar energy by 2020. Clean transport and electricity are also needed for cleansing air pollution in cities.

Q. What is France, as host country of the next climate conference (COP21), planning to offer in the form of its INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) to strike a global climate deal in Paris in December?

A. France is acting to lead by example, first through the law on energy transition towards green growth, which I drafted and got voted in the National Assembly and which concerns all the challenges of climate change, and the preparation for a post-oil era. France has opted for an energy mix of energy saving measures, nuclear energy and renewable energy. Europe has set itself the ambition of achieving the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels, increasing energy efficiency by 27%, and a renewable energy share of 27%. This is also a way of generating jobs. A major drive is on for waste treatment and converting waste into energy.

Q. Rich nations including France have so far contributed very little to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Will France increase its contribution?

A. France was actually one of the first countries to contribute to the fund with $1 billion. This is really a major contribution as this enabled the fund to attain the $10 billion mark right since the Lima Conference in December last year. The issue today is to swiftly decide how these resources will be used, because we must help the least developed countries to protect themselves from climate disruption and adapt to the changes of energy transition. This fund is to be supplemented with contributions from the private sector to reach the $100 billion mark. France has also committed bilaterally to increasing its financing support to climate-related projects.

Q. What will France's stand be as far as ex-ante review of country goals is concerned in view of strong opposition to it by most of the developing countries, including India and China?

A. I don't think that a country's attachment to its sovereignty and the necessity of reaching an agreement to face the dangers of climate disruption are mutually exclusive. This is what should guide us: there is but one planet and we must work together to save it. Being true to yourself and working with others go hand in hand. Often, during our climate debates, I think of these lovely words of Tagore, "I have had my invitation to this world's festival... and I have done all I could." We have also met the Chinese negotiator, who was quite constructive.

Q. What is the solution for countries that need to grow at the cost of carbon emissions as they want to improve the living conditions of their citizens through economic growth and energy access?

A. The more we wait, the more it will cost, and the worse the impact. Solutions are within reach and that's a good thing for our countries. India is a great country with engineers, scientists and talented people who can contribute to the new energy model, which reconciles the aspirations for growth and access to carbon-free energy. If nothing is done, climate disruption will lead to many disasters. So, we must act and we must consider this as a chance to think and act differently.

Source: 6 February, 2015, The Economics Times