Global Climate March in Rome on Nov. 29
Global Climate March in Rome on Nov. 29
Jean-Francis Pecresse

PARIS — France, the host of the COP21, has in its hands the most vital mission it has ever been entrusted with: spare humanity the irreversible disaster that would come from a two-degree rise of the globe's average temperature by this century's end, compared to the pre-industrial era.

There will be no second chance. We can always try to reassure ourselves with the thought that the human species will somehow manage to adapt to global warming — it's probably true, but it would come at the expense of millions of deaths, of unprecedented displacements of population and of huge land masses rendered uninhabitable because of rising waters or droughts.

This apocalyptic world no longer falls under the category of prediction, but expectation. It's no longer reserved to the southern hemisphere. It no longer threatens distant generations, exotic tribes or voiceless populations. We know the victims of climate terror: They are our children.

Our common home is burning, and among the 196 joint homeowners who have arrived in Paris for the COP21 United Nations summit, some are still looking elsewhere. Saudi Arabia, sitting on its deathly oil slicks. India, which sees in the calls for a de-carbonized economy a new form of Western imperialism. Russia, eyeing the huge energy reserves of the Arctic soon to be liberated by the melting of the ice caps.

Finding a consensus on a legally-bound agreement despite these opposing interests, establishing the need to raise, as early as 2020 and for five years (not 10 — we no longer have the time), the contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and thus avoid a deadly three-degree warming path: This is the weighty responsibility that French President François Hollande has undertaken by hosting the COP21 in Paris.

Given its past diplomatic failings, whether in relation to Russia or the handling of the Syrian conflict, there are reasons to worry about France's capacity to produce a result that would measure up to expectations.

This time, however, there is room for hope. First because Paris, learning lessons from the Copenhagen failure in 2009, has had the good idea of gathering the heads of state and of government at the very start of the conference, in order to provide the political momentum necessary to put the pressure on their respective delegations.

Secondly because France is not alone. It has natural allies: Germany, but also the United States and China, the world's two main polluters, are on our side — as long as their obligations are reasonable. Finally, the global world of finance is becoming a driving force: Hundreds of billions of euros of assets are about to be completely de-carbonized.

What if, in the end, it was cold hard cash that saved the planet?

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Society

How The Top Collector Of Chinese Art Evades Censors In New Hong Kong Museum

Swiss businessman Uli Sigg is the most important collector of Chinese contemporary art. In 2012, he gave away most of his collection to the M+ in Hong Kong. Now the museum has opened as the Communist Party is cracking down hard on freedom of expression. So how do you run a museum in the face of widespread censorship from Beijing?

''Rouge 1992'' by Li Shan at the M+ museum

Maximilian Kalkhof

The first test has been passed, Uli Sigg thinks. So far, everything has gone well. His new exhibition has opened, visitors like to come, and — this is the most important thing for the Swiss businessman — everything is on display. He has not had to take an exhibit off the list of works.

The M+ in Hong Kong is a new museum that wants to compete with the established ones. It wants to surpass the MoMa in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris. Sigg, a rather down-to-earth man, says: “There is no better museum in the whole world.” That is very much self-praise, since Sigg’s own collection is central to the museum.

The only problem is: great art is often political; it questions the rulers. Since the Chinese Communist Party has been cracking down on critics and freedom in Hong Kong, the metropolis is a bad place for politics and art. So how did the collection get there?

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