World leaders still coming to Paris for climate talks

2015-11-18 19:32
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Bonn/Washington - At least 80 world leaders are still expected in Paris on November 30 for the opening of global climate talks, despite the terrorist attacks on France, the head of the UN's climate change programme said Wednesday.

"COP21 continues as planned," Christiana Figueres told a press conference in Bonn.

She is head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will convene its 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) from November 30 to December 11.

She spoke at the release of a third major report ahead of the talks. Climate Action Now is a summary of successful measures already under way to keep the earth cool, Figueres said.

The long-range goal is to  reduce enough greenhouse emissions to  keep Earth's temperature from rising this century more than 2°C over pre-industrial norms.

The planet has already warmed 0.8 degrees since about 1850, and is on course to exceed a 4-to-5° increase, scientists say, putting a massive number of human lives at risk from flooding and drought. 

One hundred and sixty eight countries, including for the first time more than 120 developing nations, have declared targets to reduce earth-warming emissions by 2025-30.

Figueres said if all targets are met, it would "make a huge dent" in global warming, but still fall short of the 2° that was decided in Cancun in 2010. With the commitments, "we would be on a track of 2.7 to 3°," she said.

US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as leaders from India, South Africa and China are among the leaders planning to come, as of reports in late October.

Figueres said that 120 leaders have accepted the invitation from French President Francois Hollande, but only 80 have registered so far.

Last time in 2009

The last time so many global leaders attended climate talks was the Copenhagen summit in 2009, which had generated high hopes for a new climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol that was due to expire in 2012.

Instead, the talks collapsed. While the European Union and a handful of other countries agreed to continue a truncated version of Kyoto until 2020, they insisted the rest of the world try again for a truly global deal to follow.

Figueres said she expects the world leaders in Paris to discuss how they can accelerate the move away from fossil fuels in the next few decades.

"We expect them to speak to a vision of transformation that is necessary," she said. 

Echoing comments of French officials in the days since terrorists killed 129 people on Friday in Paris, Figueres said there was still uncertainty about whether outside events being planned by non-governmental organizations will "continue exactly as planned" or perhaps in a different way with more security.

She issued a "call for personal prudence" on the part of everyone attending the talks.

Read more on:    unfccc  |  france  |  cop21

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