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Hollande insists COP21 climate agreement will be legally binding

French president François Hollande has insisted that agreements reached at next month's COP21 Paris climate conference will be binding, Radio France International (RFI) said. 17 Nov 2015

Hollande was responding to a Financial Times interview with US secretary of state John Kerry in which Kerry said that the conference agreement was "definitively not going to be a treaty" that  would legally bind countries to cut carbon emissions.

The agreement would contain measures that would drive a "significant amount of investment" towards a low-carbon global economy, Kerry told the Financial Times, but there were "not going to be legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto".

Hollande said in response that "if the agreement is not legally binding, there will be no agreement. [ ... ] We must give the Paris agreement, if there is one, a binding character in the sense that the commitments that are made must be kept and respected," according to RFI.

French foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius told RFI that Kerry's statement "could have been more fortunate". It is "obvious" that some of the decisions must be legally binding, he said.

However, a spokesperson for the US state department told the New York Times that while the FT article "may have been read to suggest that the US supports a completely nonbinding approach … that is not the case, and is not Secretary Kerry's position".

"Our position has not changed: The US is pressing for an agreement that contains both legally binding and non-legally binding provisions," the spokesperson told the New York Times.