John Kerry’s statement that the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Paris will result in no “legally binding” agreement on emissions reductions is being met with rebuffs on Thursday, including a retort that the U.S. Secretary of State must be “confused.”
In an interview with the Financial Times Wednesday, Kerry said the outcome of the talks known as COP21 was “definitely not going to be a treaty,” and would not include “legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto,” referring to the 1997 Protocol that did call for such binding targets.
Kerry said later on Wednesday speaking at Old Dominion University that “we are seeking to reach an ambitious, durable, and inclusive agreement at the UN climate conference next month in Paris. That’s our goal.”
Kerry’s French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, shot back at Kerry’s take.
“Jurists will discuss the legal nature of an accord on whether it should be termed as a treaty or an international agreement,” Reuters quotes Fabius as telling press.
“But the fact that a certain number of dispositions should have a practical effect and be legally binding is obvious so let’s not confuse things, which is perhaps what Mr Kerry has done,” he said.
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The EU made its position clear in September, stating that the bloc “is pressing for a global, fair, ambitious and legally binding international treaty that will prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels.”
EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete confirmed that position, the Guardian reported Thursday.
“The Paris agreement must be an international legally binding agreement,” a spokeswoman for the commissioner told the publication. “The title of the agreement is yet to be decided but it will not affect its legally binding form.”
French President Francois Hollande also responded to Kerry’s comments, telling reporters in Malta on Thursday that “if the deal is not legally binding, there is no accord, because that would mean it’s not possible to verify or control commitments that are made.”
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