Former French Foreign Minister reportedly resigns role as chair of UN climate talks
Former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has reportedly decided to step down as chair of the UN climate talks, handing the task of overseeing the ratification of the historic Paris Agreement to a yet to be named successor.
Fabius left the French government last week, after he was appointed by President Francois Hollande to head the country's constitutional court. It was originally intended he would combine the new role with his on-going position as chair of the COP21 summit, a post that runs for a year until the next UN climate summit in Morocco in November.
Fabius had said during the final stages of the fraught summit that he would continue to work with those countries that harboured concerns about the Paris Agreement and as such he was expected to play a key role in the ratification and implementation of the agreement.
The UN hopes the agreement will be fully ratified ahead of a signing ceremony in April in New York. In order to formally take effect, the Paris Agreement needs at least 55 countries, representing at least 55 per cent of the world's climate emissions, to ratify the treaty.
However, news agency Reuters reported yesterday that Fabius had written to Hollande informing him of his decision to relinquish the position.
The resignation came after some concerns were voiced over the weekend about the potential for a clash between his new job as chair of France's top constitutional court and his role in the UN negotiating process.
In the letter, Fabius rejected fears of a conflict, but said he would step down anyway in order to avoid "the start of a controversy".
"In my view, there is no incompatibility with the Presidency of the last phase the COP21," he wrote. "However, given the signs of internal debate on this subject, I judge best to give you my term as President of the COP."
Fabius did not propose a successor, but media speculation quickly highlighted his recent replacement as foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault or ecology minister Segolene Royal as frontrunners for the post.
The move comes just days after Fabius and UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres were awarded the Ewald von Kleist peace award in recognition of their part in securing climate treaty.