Increased Resolve for UN Climate Talks 11/27 06:27
Still gripped by shock and grief, Paris will play host to a long-awaited
U.N. climate conference under tragic circumstances that none could have
PARIS (AP) -- Still gripped by shock and grief, Paris will play host to a
long-awaited U.N. climate conference under tragic circumstances that none could
But delegates to the two-week talks starting Monday insist they won't let
the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 people in the French capital distract them
from the task at hand: crafting a landmark deal to fight global warming.
If anything, some say, the bloodshed could make countries more determined to
reach a deal to address a problem that's widely seen as a factor that
contributes to conflict.
"There may be even more awareness of how important it is to address climate
change, given the impact of climate change on the stability of countries," said
Dutch climate envoy Michel Rentenaar.
The French organizers say more than 140 leaders including presidents Barack
Obama of the U.S., Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China have
confirmed they're attending the start of the conference.
The stepped-up security measures in Paris --- a state of emergency
throughout France has been extended for three months --- mean that shuttling
them around the city will be a major logistics challenge.
Citing security concerns, French authorities have stopped several events
that were scheduled to take place outside the conference center, including a
big march that environmentalists had planned for Sunday.
The negotiations themselves, however, are set to go ahead as planned amid
tight security in the hermetically sealed conference center in Le Bourget, just
north of Paris.
Seyni Nafo, the spokesman for the African Group of countries in the climate
talks, said "the main variable" is whether French President Francois Hollande
can find the time and energy to devote himself fully to the climate talks,
given his focus on terrorism and security.
"Other than this I suspect the talks will remain mostly on course," Nafo
A top French official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not
allowed to discuss the issue publicly, said Hollande "remains totally committed
to this event and we are now conciliating it with an extraordinarily busy
Hollande notably maintained all his climate-related appointments last week,
including a meeting with some African leaders on Tuesday and a speech to French
farmers on Thursday.
This week, he was due to attend several climate-related events despite trips
to Washington and Moscow: a France-Oceania summit on Thursday, a meeting with
non-governmental groups following the climate negotiations on Saturday, and
meetings with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Xi on Sunday.
"What powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as
one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for
our children," Obama said on Tuesday, with Hollande at his side.
The goal of the Paris conference is for governments to adopt a deal that for
the first time would require all countries to take action to fight climate
Countries on the front line, such as small island states that could vanish
amid rising seas, were worried that the Paris attacks would become a
distraction for Western countries in particular. However, they've been
reassured by the number of leaders, including Obama, who quickly reaffirmed
their plans to attend the U.N. conference, said Jeffrey Waheed, the Maldives'
deputy permanent secretary to the United Nations.
"The fact that this is on the forefront of everyone's mind is a positive
sign," Waheed said. "World leaders are used to handling multiple issues. And
this is an issue of peace and security in the long term."
Researchers and military officials have long stressed the link between
climate change and security. The Pentagon noted in a report last year that
climate impacts could exacerbate challenges to stability such as infectious
diseases and poverty.
Some researchers have even drawn a connection between climate change and the
Syrian conflict, saying an extended drought led to social unrest that triggered
an uprising against authoritarian President Bashar Assad. The ensuing civil war
has forced millions of Syrians to flee the country and fueled the rise of
extremist groups like the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the
gun and bomb massacres in Paris.
With demonstrations in Paris banned, climate activists are planning over
2,000 events across 150 countries this weekend, demanding that negotiators pave
the way for a transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy like
wind and solar power.
A limited number of activists accredited to the conference will be urging
negotiators in the hallways to look beyond their short-term national interests
and come together for a common plan for the planet's future.
"Since the climate summit will take place in an atmosphere of war," said
Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid, "we hope world leaders will use it to show the
world what peaceful global cooperation looks like to protect our shared