French Foreign Minister: It’s Not Climate Change, It’s ‘Climate Chaos’

By Patrick Goodenough | May 19, 2014 | 4:30am EDT


French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks alongside Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

( – French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, gearing up to host a major U.N. climate conference at the end of next year, wants to start referring to “climate disruption” or “climate chaos” rather than “climate change” – since, he says, “change” can be seen as a positive thing.

Fabius, who during a visit to Washington last week declared that the world has “500 days to avoid climate chaos,” repeated this message back in Paris on his return.

“We have 500 days – not a day more – to avert a climate disaster,” he said in a speech in French at the foreign ministry on May 14. “People often talk about climate change or global warming. I attach great importance to words, and as far as the French language is concerned I don’t think those words are very appropriate, because – without alluding to this or that political program – change is seen as rather a positive thing.”

“But in the case of climate, it isn’t at all,” he continued, suggesting instead the use of the term “climate chaos – in English, climate disruption, climate chaos.”

Addressing the French parliament on the same day, Fabius again stated, “We have 500 days to avert climate catastrophe.”

The repeated reference to a looming deadline alludes to the U.N. climate conference France will be hosting in Paris next November, scheduled to begin in around 560 days’ time.

Earlier, during his visit to Washington, Fabius made the “500 day” point both during a speech at the Brookings Institution and again after holding talks with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department.

“We are – all of you know it – on the edge of a climatic abyss,” he said at Brookings. “In fact, we have 500 days to avoid climate chaos.”

“The U.N. conference on climate change, which will take place next year in Paris, is an absolute top priority,” he said. “The goal is to achieve a post-2020 agreement [on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change] that should include all countries, and be legally binding.”

“This is ambitious, but there are some glimmers of hope,” Fabius said. “Compared to [the Dec. 2009 climate conference in] Copenhagen, climate denial is – at least in Europe – less audible.”

Standing alongside Kerry at the State Department, Fabius said, “We have 500 days to avoid climate chaos.”

“And I know that President Obama and John Kerry himself are committed on this subject and I’m sure that with them, with a lot of other friends, we shall be able to reach success in this very important matter.”

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