French press review 1 December 2015

The French dailies are virtually unanimous in giving pride of place to the United Nations climate conference which opened yesterday in Paris. They are less unanimous on the question of whether another talking shop is going to do much to save the polar bears, the Andaman Islands and all the rest of us.


The long-range weather forecast is bleak.

You will know by now that the planet is in danger of melting by the end of the century and that world leaders met in Paris yesterday, each one having three minutes to explain what he or she felt could, should or must be done.

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There is no longer any margin for error, warns Libération, before explaining the economic and political reasons which encourage major polluters like India, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to go on being major polluters.

There's no doubting the quality of yesterday's public performances, says Libé. The leaders showed up and spoke up, and they all made the right kind of noises. However. In an editorial headlined "Injustice," the left-leaning daily asks how you can criticise India, fourth worst emmitter of carbon dioxide on a global scale because of its huge dependance on coal but a nation where each individual has a carbon footprint 10 times smaller than the average American.

The simple answer, of course, is to have the rich North pay to help the developing South. Except that, by its own estimation, the North ain't that rich any more and there's little political will in, say, Antrim, to save the drowning population of, say, the Andamans.

Le Monde poses the question bluntly: "Is the North ready to pay for the South?" But it's a rhetorical question since no politician with a five-year mandate is going to tell voters they have to pay cash to prevent a catastrophe three decades down the road. Especially since most voters remain convinced that the worst impact of climatic warming is going to happen to someone else, somewhere very far away.

Communist L'Humanité wonders if yesterday's climate of good intentions will be sufficient to produce a worthwhile final agreement. That's another rhetorical question, with the communist paper remembering the pithy observation by Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, to the effect that, if the planet was a bank, the rich nations would have saved it long ago. That was Cop15.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Yesterday, at Cop21, it was left to Bolivian leader Evo Morales to call for an end to the steamroller of free market liberalism, which he says has the sole ambition of producing infinite amounts of consumer goods at the cost of destroying nature, work and human togetherness.

Right-wing Le Figaro says yesterday's unanimity on what needs to be done was rare and impressive. Agreeing on how to do what needs to be done is another and tougher day's work.

The conservative paper says no leader anywhere is going to call for an end to economic growth - and that's the problem in a nutshell. Fifty pages of good intentions, as Le Figaro describes the Paris final communiqué, won't change anything in the real world. The only hope, the conservative daily believes, is the private sector: there is money to be made selling clean technology. We can expect more from Bill Gates and his 30 fellow billionaires who plan to save the world and get even richer in the process, than from yesterday's 147 professions of faith by a bunch of gasbags whose sell-by date is much closer than the end of the world.

Catholic La Croix gives the front-page honours to the question of religious violence, inspired by Pope Francis's visit earlier this week to the central mosque in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.

The long and tragic history of wars of religion is, says La Croix, a tragic contradiction of the message of sharing and brotherhood which is central to all human faiths. Believing in God means believing in peace, the Pope said in Bangui yesterday.

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