France's Hollande says Chinese support ‘essential’ at climate talks
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French President François Hollande said Monday that Chinese support was "essential" to reaching an effective deal at the forthcoming climate change conference in Paris as he began a two-day state visit to the Asian giant.
In the southwestern megacity of Chongqing, Hollande said he was seeking "a global and ambitious agreement that will allow [global] warming to be limited to two degrees".
"The support of the Chinese is essential," he said, adding: "The fight against global warming is a humanitarian issue – how the planet can be preserved – and it is also an issue of considerable economic importance, of what we call green growth."
Hollande is in China to try and persuade Beijing, a key player in the fight against global warming, to give a decisive push to negotiations ahead of a key climate conference in Paris.
China is the world's largest polluter and will be a key participant at the COP 21 conference, which begins on November 30, in the face of disputes over whether developed or developing countries should bear more of the burden for reducing emissions.
Talks have largely stalled over the mechanism for following up on commitments by the 195 attending countries. France is calling for a "legally binding" mechanism with a review every five years, while China has ruled out any kind of punitive system.
Beijing, which was blamed for scuppering a 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, has already promised its carbon dioxide emissions will peak "by around 2030" in a symbolic announcement in June.
Actor Sean Penn on Sunday praised the French government’s efforts to push for a deal, calling the conference “the last great hope” for an agreement fighting climate change. Penn met with Environment Minister Ségolène Royal in Paris on Sunday to discuss the actor’s reforestation efforts in Haiti, according to her office.
Hollande will travel to Beijing later Monday where he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Tuesday, when the two leaders will speak to a French-Chinese economic forum on green growth.
The French president's trip comes hot on the heels of a similar visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in China last week hoping to drum up business, and after Xi visited both Britain and the US in the last two months.
Several major EU countries including Germany, France and Britain are wooing China in the hope of winning business and becoming hubs for the growing overseas trade of its yuan currency.
Hollande is accompanied by around 40 heads of French firms and a number of ministers, visiting a Sino-French water treatment company in Chongqing Monday to highlight cooperation in green growth industries.
The French president will follow his trip to China with a one-day state visit to South Korea.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)