How France is threatening global biodiversity at COP15

While the whole world’s attention is focused on football, France is trashing the International Conference on Biodiversity in Montreal, making it impossible to reach an agreement up to our toughest challenge yet: the disappearance of the living world. The French government is playing a sinister game that is not making the headlines, even though the stakes for our future on Earth are truly existential.

The COP15 on biodiversity is entering its final stretch with “high-level” negotiations that should lead, on Monday 19 December, to a global agreement between 196 States to protect nature. Behind the scenes, far from the ambitions expressed in a well-oiled communication plan, France is working to undermine any international agreement that would establish real protection for so-called “protected” marine areas and give developing countries the financial means to implement policies to protect nature and the living world. This is a “red line” for the French government that French diplomats follow to the letter, even if it means creating an uproar and leading to the departure of all developing countries from the negotiating room.

To save the industrial fishing lobby, Emmanuel Macron is sacrificing the future of humanity and life in Montreal.

France is using a three-step approach.

Step 1: Before the COP, France killed the 10% “strict protection” target

For months, France has been torpedoing European attempts to include ambitious ocean protection targets in the EU’s negotiating mandate for COP15. As we revealed on 5 December in a groundbreaking report, France has allied itself with the Netherlands, against Belgium in particular, so that the EU would abandon the 10% objective of “strict protection” at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, and only retain the overall objective of 30% of marine protected areas.

Step 2: With the 10% of “strict protection” out of the way, France is now stripping the 30% global protection target of its substance

In Montreal, France’s attack on an ambitious agreement on marine protection continues. Once rid of the 10% “strict” protection target, France is now working to ensure that the 30% target remains a non-issue. To do this, France is now opposing the adoption of specific quality criteria that would ensure that the 30% of the overall protection target corresponds to genuine protection⁽¹⁾. Without these qualitative criteria, the protection figures remain smoke and mirrors and the marine protected areas (MPAs) remain ineffective empty shells, much like the fake MPAs created in France.

To achieve its goal, France proceeds in two ways: on the one hand, it obstructs the EU’s position within the European coordination space, and on the other hand, it works at the global level by instrumentalizing the “High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People”. Launched with great fanfare by Emmanuel Macron in 2021, the “high ambition” of this coalition seems above all, under the influence of France, to fight against a real protection of protected areas. Emmanuel Macron has already reaped the benefits of his spectacular announcement of “more than 30% of French waters protected” during the One Ocean Summit in Brest, before the French presidential election. He has no intention of making this protection effective⁽²⁾. France is pursuing the same goal for this COP. As of right now, it is succeeding.

Scandalized, many participants to the COP15 alerted BLOOM on France’s shameless destruction enterprise.

Step 3: France categorically rejects the principle of solidarity to protect biodiversity

But France’s disgraceful role does not end there. Emmanuel Macron is also firmly opposed to the creation of a global biodiversity fund to help developing countries protect nature. According to negotiators, the French government’s “red line” is being defended by French diplomats with such adamancy and arrogance that it is jeopardizing the global negotiation. Given that France has succeeded in blocking the EU’s position on this aspect, the EU has not been able to positively embrace the spirit of compromise animating the developing countries’ delegations that proposed to evolve the “Global Environment Facility” instead of creating a new financial instrument. The indecency and stiffness of the Western position put the negotiations under tension: on Tuesday night, all the developing countries left the negotiating room, infuriated.

If France does not radically and immediately change its position, the failure of the COP15 will be inevitable and France will be to blame. Emmanuel Macron’s determination to destroy the living world and the climate deeply stains the image of the French State and sours the United Nations’ decision to award France the responsibility of hosting the next UN Ocean Conference in 2025.


⁽¹⁾ Goal 3 of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

⁽²⁾ This is why France has first redefined the European “strict” protection to its own liking and transformed it in a decree into a flimsy “strong French-style” protection. It is this dangerous decree that BLOOM had to sue before the Council of State to curb France’s determination to never protect the ocean and to never upset industrial fishers, who have access to 99.9% of French waters.

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