In two languages, French Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius started the countdown Tuesday to climate change disaster, speaking in Washington before a meeting with American counterpart Secretary of State John Kerry.
Secretary of State John Kerry listens as French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks prior to their meeting at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
“We have 500 days to avoid the climate chaos,” Fabius said in French.
Kerry added, “Thank you very much. Do you want to say anything? He speaks perfect English. Do you want to say anything?”
Speaking then in English, Fabius touched on Iran, Syria, and Ukraine, but then quickly returned to climate change.
“And very important issues, issue of climate change, climate chaos,” the foreign minister said. “And we have – as I 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 on this very important matter.”
Fabius and Kerry went into a meeting that morning. Later on Tuesday, Fabius spoke at the French embassy in Washington where he was critical of the Obama administration over its Syrian policy.
A reporter brought up Fabius' comment to White House press secretary Jay Carney, drawing laughter in the press room when he asked, “I wonder what your timeline is.”
“I don't have a specific reaction to that statement except to say that the National Climate Assessment that was released last week paints a picture about the fact that these impacts are already here,” Carney said. “Some are sooner than expected, than the scientists expected. And that only reinforces the need to approach this in the kind of comprehensive way that the president has laid out.”