French Language Blog

COP21: The 2015 Paris Climate Conference Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in Vocabulary

A very important climate conference is taking place in Paris from November 30 to December 11th. The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (or COP21) seeks to work on a new international agreement to keep the level of global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Why? Because environmental scientists have long warned that if average global temperatures rise higher than 2 degrees above pre-industrial revolution level temperatures, it could have disastrous and potentially irreversible consequence, including the rising of sea-levels and an increased level of storms, floods, and droughts. France is taking a lead role in this conference and in halting or reversing the damage of climate change though regulatory measures.You can check out the COP21 website in French here (there is also an English version here).

A recent series in has sought to clarify what COP21 hopes to achieve. In a multi-media presentation called “Vingt et un Mots for Comprendre la COP21,” the newspaper lists and explains 21 important words for climate change. This site is not only informational in terms of environmental change, but also for intermediate to advanced French learners. Take a look at it here.

Some of the words explores are: le marché carbone (the carbon market), le protocole de Kyoto (the Kyoto protocol), réchauffement climatique (global warming), les energies renouvelables (renewable energy), les energies fossiles (fossil fuels), and le désinvestissement (divestment).

Here is the description of another term l’acidification (the acidification of oceans, in particular):

L’océan constitue un puits de carbone, qui absorbe près de 30 % des émissions de dioxyde de carbone dues aux activités humaines. Mais alors que ces rejets d’origine humaine (anthropiques) ne cessent de progresser, le CO2, en se dissolvant partiellement dans l’océan, le rend plus acide. Actuellement, le pH moyen des océans est de 8,1 environ, ce qui représente déjà une acidification de quelque 30 % depuis l’ère préindustrielle. Il pourrait atteindre 7,8 en 2100 sans réduction de nos émissions de dioxyde de carbone.

Can you understand most of the paragraph below? If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Another resource for both environmental and French education are the videos posted on the COP21 website. In these videos, important politicians and activists such Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ségolène Royale, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy, speak about the goals of COP21 and of France’s goals, in particular, in regards to curbing climate change. These videos are subtitled in English. I’ve included Ségolène Royale’s message below.

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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at A la prochaine!