February 17, 2016 / 10:20 AM / 2 years ago

France's Royal to head U.N. climate talks after Fabius quits

PARIS (Reuters) - French Environment Minister Segolene Royal said on Wednesday she would take over the presidency of U.N. climate talks, seeking to implement a global deal reached last year to shift away from fossil fuels, after former foreign minister Laurent Fabius quit.

French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Segolene Royal arrives at the scene near the wreckage of a school minibus after it crashed into a metal panel which fell from a truck in Rochefort, France, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Royal said she had accepted a request from French President Francois Hollande to serve out the U.N. presidency, lasting until the next annual meeting of 195 nations on global warming in Marrakech in Morocco in November.

Fabius, who won praise for chairing a Paris summit in December where all nations agreed to curb their greenhouse gas emissions to limit rising temperatures, left the foreign ministry last week to head France’s constitutional court.

Royal told iTele television that she would work to ensure that all countries “ratify the agreement, sign this agreement, implement the decisions in their domestic policies to permit a fight against global warming”.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a meeting in New York on April 22 opening the Paris Agreement for signatures, a step toward formal ratification.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama’s climate envoy, Todd Stern, said Washington would sign the Paris pact regardless of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week to put a chunk of Obama’s environmental action on hold.

In Geneva, Hoesung Lee, the head of the U.N.’s panel of climate scientists, said the Paris Agreement was an important landmark but said there was no time to lose in implementing it.

“The longer we delay action, the cost of climate stabilization will rise dramatically,” he said. The panel says rising temperatures are already causing more downpours, heat waves and rising sea levels.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier in Paris and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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