BREST, France (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s department on Friday announced new plans by the United States and France to protect the environment, including an expansion of the protection of the French Antarctic territories, as France hosted the ‘One Ocean’ summit.
Political leaders around the world are keen to burnish their environmental credentials, in the wake of recent climate change protest movements.
Macron, who still hasn’t confirmed he will run for reelection in the upcoming French presidential election, spoke the day after he announced massive investments in nuclear energy in a push for France to be carbon neutral by 2050.
“2022 will be a decisive year, we should take here, in Brest, clear and firm commitments (…) Europe has a key role to play”, Macron said, flagging upcoming events linked to the preservation of the oceans, including the United Nations environment assembly summit starting in Nairobi on Feb. 28.
U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also attended the event, urging the world to go beyond words and take actions.
“It is the ocean that makes life on Earth possible, produces more than half of the oxygen that we breathe and even that is at risk (…) the ocean and climate are inextricably linked, they’re one and the same”, Kerry said.
“We are the prisoners of a status quo, particularly those who run for office, you know what I’m talking about : powerful vested interests that push back against change”, he added.
In a joint statement, France and the U.S. said they would support launching negotiations at the upcoming U.N. Environment Assembly on a global agreement to address the full lifecycle of plastics and promote a circular economy.
“Our mission to protect the ocean needs to be as big as our shared responsibility. That is why we have come to Brest today to join forces and turn the tide. Europe can make a huge contribution, as a maritime power”, von der Leyen said
“It is time for an alliance between us and the ocean.”
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Anna Dittrich and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by)