Francois Hollande in climate warning ahead of talks

Climate warning: French president Francois Hollande. Picture: Getty
Climate warning: French president Francois Hollande. Picture: Getty
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FRENCH President Francois Hollande issued a stark warning about the need to make forthcoming climate negotiations a success after meeting with Arctic leaders in Reykjavik last weekend.

On a whistlestop tour before November’s Paris COP this weekend, President Hollande shared a platform with Icelandic President Olafur Grimsson at the Arctic Circle assembly, a conference of business leaders, politicians and environmental activists.

Economic progress cannot be based on environmental catastrophe

Francois Hollande

“For anybody who thinks the world is not getting warmer, they have to come here. If there is a demonstration to be done, it is here,” said Hollande after viewing the country’s shrinking ice caps on a trip with President Grimsson and Segolene Royale, the French Environment Minister.

Hollande and Grimsson were also joined by Premier of Quebec Phillipe Couillard and special envoys from the Russian and US Governments.

Stopping the melting of the polar icecaps and restricting extraction of the Arctic’s energy resources are key aims of the Paris COP, which will try to achieve binding targets for emissions reduction for the first time in twenty years.

“Economic progress cannot be based on environmental catastrophe”, Hollande told delegates assembled in Reykjavik, including Russian and Alaskan indigenous groups and SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

Several climate estimates suggest that there will be ice-free summers in the Arctic by the middle of the century, sparking a gold rush in the mineral and shipping industries. Even with radical climate measures in place, it is unlikely Arctic sea ice can be kept at its current level.

Dr John MacDonald, head of the Scottish Global Forum think tank and author of a new report on Scotland and the Arctic said of the event:

“We can only hope that the spirit of Arctic cooperation is adhered to as much as possible.

“This cooperation will be vital if coherent regulatory frameworks and research and monitoring collaborations are to be agreed on key issues such as energy extraction, fisheries, the Polar Code and the future use of the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route over Russia.”

The Scottish Climate Change minister Aileen McLeod will be attending the Paris negotiations, though the Scottish Government have failed to meet their own climate targets four years in a row.

The independent Committee on Climate Change last year made a number of recommendations to the Scottish Government on how to avoid future failure, calling into question aspects of Scottish Government economic and transport policy.

Iceland has an almost entirely carbon-free energy network consisting of geothermal and hydro-electric power.

Although Scotland possesses significant renewables assets, the Scottish Government’s Energy policy envisages a mixed energy policy with the surplus being exported.

The SNP have also been accused of ambiguity over their position on fracking.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has previously warned of a carbon bubble from fracking technology, whilst environmental organisations claim that the technology will only lead to more carbon being released than climate targets require.