President Michael D. Higgins invited to address major climate change summit in Paris

President Michael D. Higgins invited to address major climate change summit in Paris

Published: Thu 16th Jul, 2015 | 09:47

At the invitation of the President of the French Republic, Mr François Hollande, President Michael D. Higgins will address the ‘Summit of Consciences for the Climate’ on Tuesday, 21st July at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Paris.

President Higgins is one of four keynote speakers who will deliver opening remarks at the conference.  The other speakers are President Hollande, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and Prince Albert of Monaco.

The focus of this summit which takes place ahead of France hosting the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015 is the involvement of citizens.

In his letter of invitation to President Higgins President Hollande stated:

“Whilst the mobilization of heads of state and government, regions, cities, the private sector and NGOs is essential, that of each citizen will be just as decisive in reaching the ambitious agreement mankind needs.”

President Hollande referred to previous statements of President Higgins and of his being aware that he had spoken frequently of the strong interconnection between development, climate change and human rights.  Speaking earlier this year at the Irish launch of the European Year of Development, President Higgins said:

“Indeed 2015 is a seminal year for the future of human development, as the nations of the world have engaged in two processes of negotiations of immense, and interrelated, importance: one on the UN’s post-2015 development agenda; and the other on climate change. 

The choices that will be made at the end of the year in relation to both agendas will have a real impact on this and future generations. Our decision-makers are presented with a unique opportunity to address the most urgent and fundamental needs of millions of people around the world, people who have the right, and seek the means, the freedom, to live their lives in dignity. And it is a task for all of us – elected representatives, NGO workers, students, activists and, simply, concerned citizens – to use whatever means we have at our disposal to ensure that the governments who represent us conduct these multilateral negotiations with real commitment and an appropriate sense of urgency.”

President Higgins will have a bilateral meeting with President Hollande in the Elysée Palace on the Monday evening which will be followed by a State dinner.

President Higgins will be accompanied on his visit to Paris by his wife Sabina Higgins.