Pro­test­ers push lead­ers to avert cli­mate catas­tro­phe

Na­tions seek new lim­its on gas emis­sions from 2020

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

PARIS: Pro­test­ers joined a world­wide wave of marches yes­ter­day de­mand­ing lead­ers craft a pact to avert a cli­mate catas­tro­phe when they gather in a still-shaken Paris. From Aus­tralia to New Zealand, the Philip­pines, Bangladesh and Ja­pan, peo­ple ral­lied at the start of a week­end of pop­u­lar protests plead­ing for world pow­ers to over­come the log­jams when the UN cli­mate sum­mit of­fi­cially opens in the French cap­i­tal tomorrow.

“Pro­tect our com­mon home,” de­clared plac­ards held aloft as thou­sands gath­ered in Mel­bourne. Some 150 lead­ers in­clud­ing US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, China’s Xi Jin­ping, In­dia’s Naren­dra Modi and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin will at­tend the start of the Paris con­fer­ence, which is tasked with reach­ing the first truly univer­sal cli­mate pact.

The goal is to limit av­er­age global warm­ing to two de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 de­grees Fahren­heit), per­haps less, over pre-In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion lev­els by curb­ing fos­sil fuel emis­sions blamed for cli­mate change.

Su­per­storms, drought

If they fail to do so, sci­en­tists warn of a world that will be in­creas­ingly in­hos­pitable to hu­man life, with su­per­storms, drought, and ris­ing sea lev­els that swamp vast ar­eas of land. On the eve ofyes­ter­day’s protests, French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, host of the Novem­ber 30-De­cem­ber 11 talks, warned of the ob­sta­cles ahead for the 195 na­tions seek­ing new lim­its on heat-trap­ping gas emis­sions from 2020.

“Man is the worst enemy of man. We can see it with ter­ror­ism,” said Hol­lande, who spoke af­ter lead­ing cer­e­monies in Paris to mourn the vic­tims of the Novem­ber 13 bomb­ing and shoot­ing at­tacks that sowed terror in the French cap­i­tal. “But we can say the same when it comes to cli­mate. Hu­man beings are de­stroy­ing na­ture, dam­ag­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. It is there­fore for hu­man beings to face up to their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for the good of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

The French leader called for “a bind­ing agree­ment, a univer­sal agree­ment, one that is am­bi­tious.”

But he also spoke of fears that a hand­ful coun­trieswhich he did not name-may stymie con­sen­sus if they felt the deal lacked guar­an­tees. Po­ten­tial stum­bling blocks in Paris abound, rang­ing from fi­nanc­ing for cli­mate-vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries to scru­tiny of com­mit­ments to curb green­house gases and even the le­gal sta­tus of the ac­cord. The last at­tempt to forge a global deal-the ill-tem­pered 2009 Copen­hagen sum­mit-foundered upon di­vi­sions be­tween rich and poor coun­tries.

“We must do our ut­most to avoid the block­ing of an agree­ment be­cause of ir­rec­on­cil­able prin­ci­ples,” French Prime Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius said in an in­ter­view with a hand­ful of in­ter­na­tional news­pa­pers pub­lished yes­ter­day. On a pos­i­tive note, bil­lions of dol­lars in en­vi­ron­men­tal aid were re­vealed Fri­day.

Hu­man chain af­ter Paris at­tacks

In Ot­tawa, the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment an­nounced cli­mate fund­ing of 2.65 bil­lion Cana­dian dol­lars ($1.98 bil­lion. 1.87 bil­lion eu­ros) over the next five years, while the 53-na­tion Com­mon­wealth bloc agreed to set up a bil­lion-dol­lar “Green Fi­nance Fa­cil­ity” for en­vi­ron­men­tal projects. Protest or­gan­is­ers say they ex­pect hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple to take to the streets over­all this week­end with fur­ther ral­lies planned in Johannesburg and Ed­in­burgh Satur­day, while sim­i­lar events were set for Sun­day in Seoul, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Mex­ico City.

In Paris, French au­thor­i­ties can­celled two demon­stra­tions fol­low­ing the on­slaught by gun­men and sui­cide bombers which killed 130 peo­ple at restau­rant ter­races, a con­cert hall and the na­tional sta­dium on Novem­ber 13. French au­thor­i­ties placed 24 cli­mate activists un­der house ar­rest us­ing state of emer­gency pow­ers de­clared af­ter the Paris at­tacks.

Activists now plan to cre­ate a two-kilo­me­tre (1.2mile) hu­man chain along the orig­i­nal march route on Sun­day. They will break the chain as they pass the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall, where the worst violence claimed 90 lives, as a mark of re­spect to the vic­tims.

Pro­test­ers also plan to leave scores of shoes on Place de la Republique square to sym­bol­ise the thou­sands left frus­trated in their plans to march.

One pair of shoes will be placed on be­half of Pope Fran­cis, in­scribed with his name and the name of the Pa­pal en­cycli­cal he is­sued ear­lier this on the threat of global warm­ing.

Around the world, pro­test­ers de­clared their sol­i­dar­ity with Paris activists who were un­able to rally with a so­cial me­dia cam­paign tagged #march4me.

In a sign of the ur­gency of the talks ahead, the start of the cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions them­selves, con­ducted by rank-and-file bu­reau­crats, have been brought for­ward to Sun­day on the eve of the of­fi­cial open­ing. The Paris con­fer­ence will gather some 40,000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 10,000 del­e­gates from 195 coun­tries, plus jour­nal­ists, ob­servers, sci­en­tists, ex­hibitors and visi­tors.

About 2,800 po­lice and sol­diers will se­cure the con­fer­ence site, and 6,300 oth­ers will de­ploy in Paris.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve said nearly 1,000 peo­ple thought to pose se­cu­rity risks have been de­nied en­try into France since stepped-up border con­trols were im­posed ahead of the cli­mate talks.

Obama has urged world lead­ers not to let a re­cent string of ex­trem­ist at­tacks around the world de­ter them from com­ing to Paris, where ques­tions of world se­cu­rity are likely to in­ter­min­gle with cli­mate on the con­fer­ence agenda. — AFP

PARIS: French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, cen­ter, his For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius, left, and Ecol­ogy Min­is­ter Se­go­lene Royal meet with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of NGOs spe­cial­ized in en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue at the El­y­see Palace in Paris, yes­ter­day. French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande was meet­ing with en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, push­ing for an am­bi­tious global deal to re­duce man-made emis­sions blamed for global warm­ing. — AP

DHAKA: Bangladesh peo­ple at­tend a Cli­mate March rally ex­press­ing sol­i­dar­ity with Global Cli­mate March, in Dhaka yes­ter­day. To­day, hours be­fore world lead­ers meet at the Paris Cli­mate Sum­mit, the Global Cli­mate March will take place to ask po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to com­mit to bold ac­tion to solve the cli­mate change cri­sis. — AFP

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