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Paris climate conference

France: Climate agreement «should be as ambitious as possible»

As the Paris Climate Conference gets under way, ILO News spoke to Ambassador Elisabeth Laurin, France’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva and to International Organizations in Switzerland. She talks about France’s vision on the green economy and the role the ILO and social partners can play.

Feature | 27 November 2015
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French Ambassador Elisabeth Laurin
ILO News: What are the priorities France would like to highlight at the COP21 Conference, which is expected to play a major role in defining the future of our planet?

France believes that the objective of the COP21 is to reach a «Paris Climate Alliance» that relies on four pillars:
  • a legally binding agreement as ambitious as possible,
  • Commitments made within the «Intended Nationally Determined Contributions» (INDC),
  • a financial and technological package,
  • an «agenda for action» (Lima Paris Action Agenda) which will consolidate commitments from non-state contributors (local authorities, businesses, civil society, International Organizations.)
All this can be achieved if we manage to keep the solid momentum noticed during negotiations that took place in an atmosphere of confidence. The number of countries – 170 – having submitted their INDC commitments represents more than 91 per cent of emissions. It shows that all parties are committed to take part in collective efforts. Also, civil society has been fully associated since the beginning of the negotiation process. This positive dynamic is all the more crucial in that the outcome of the Paris conference will need to meet the expectations of the international community.

ILO News: In his speech to the International Labour Conference last June, French President François Hollande said: «To act for climate is to act for growth, justice and labour rights.» How can we convince the international community to make sustainable development a priority?

The adoption by UN Members States of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development last September – building on 17 Sustainable Development Objectives (SDGs) – is a binding commitment for us all. The International Labour Organization will have an important role to play in implementing and following up on SDG 8 that mentions decent work, which is also the cornerstone of the global jobs pact.

ILO News: To what extent can green jobs contribute to sustainable development?

The transition to low-carbon economies implies speeding up the development of «green» jobs, that is to say jobs that protect the environment. In the broader sense of the word – which does not exclude any activity or sector – those «green» jobs are at the core of the building up an economy that includes the ecological transition. They identify the technical feasibility as well as whether or not the transition is economically viable.

In France, the Loi de transition énergétique pour la croissance verte was enacted in August 2015. It calls for the swift creation of 100,000 long term jobs as well as 200,000 others by 2030.

ILO News: How can social partners – employers and workers organizations – contribute to a greener economy? What role do you think the ILO can play in this process?

The role social partners can play is crucial: at the enterprise level, they can integrate the challenges of the ecological transition when it comes to foresee job opportunities, as well as training programmes; in the different sectors and regions, they can propose to set up the necessary skills programmes working closely with local public authorities. Because of its tripartite component, the ILO can be the engine for mobilizing social partners and to share best practices.