French President François Hollande said Monday that Chinese support was “essential” to reaching an effective deal at the forthcoming climate change conference in Paris, as he began a visit to the Asian giant.
In the southwestern megacity of Chongqing, Hollande said he was seeking “a global and ambitious agreement that will allow [global] warming to be limited to two degrees”.
“The support of the Chinese is essential,” he said, adding: “The fight against global warming is a humanitarian issue – how the planet can be preserved – and it is also an issue of considerable economic importance, of what we call green growth.”
China is the world's largest polluter and will be a key player at the UN conference, which begins on November 30, in the face of disputes over whether developed or developing countries should bear more of the burden for reducing emissions.
Talks have largely stalled over the mechanism for following up on commitments by the 195 attending countries: France is calling for a “legally binding” mechanism with a review every five years, while China has ruled out any kind of punitive system.
Beijing, which was blamed for scuppering a 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, has already promised its carbon dioxide emissions will peak “by around 2030” in a symbolic announcement in June.
The French president's trip comes hot on the heels of a similar visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in China last week hoping to drum up business, and after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited both Britain and the US in the last two months.
Several major EU countries including Germany, France and Britain are wooing China in the hope of winning business and becoming hubs for the growing overseas trade of its yuan currency.
Hollande is accompanied by around 40 heads of French firms and a number of ministers, and visited a Sino-French water treatment company in Chongqing to highlight cooperation in green growth industries.
On Tuesday, Hollande will meet with the China Entrepreneur Club, which comprises top executives and industrialists, for talks on the Chinese economy, the second-largest in the world but which this year is expected to see its lowest growth in 25 years.
He will end his visit by addressing a Chinese-French business forum on the economy and climate, and holding talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and the head of the Chinese parliament.
The French president will then fly to Seoul, where his message on climate change is likely to be better received.
South Korea is home to the headquarters of the UN's Green Climate Fund, a mechanism for transferring funds from developed to developing nations to help them counter the effects of climate change.