COP21: High-level cli­mate talks open in Paris

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

High-level cli­mate talks got un­der way in Paris this week, aimed at sign­ing a long-term deal to re­duce global car­bon emis­sions.

More than 150 world lead­ers have con­verged to launch the two-week talks, known as COP21.

The last ma­jor meet­ing in 2009 ended in fail­ure. But French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius, who is chair­ing the meet­ing, said a deal was within reach.

Most of the dis­cus­sions are ex­pected to cen­tre on an agree­ment to limit global warm­ing to 2 de­grees Cel­cius (3.6F).

As­sess­ments of the more than 180 na­tional plans that have been sub­mit­ted by coun­tries sug­gest that if they were im­ple­mented the world would see a rise of nearer to 3C.

Peru­vian En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Manuel Pul­gar Vi­dal de­clared this year’s meet­ing open on Mon­day.

Strong ac­tion on car­bon emis­sions is es­sen­tial for mul­ti­ple rea­sons, said Mr. Vi­dal, who hosted last year’s UN cli­mate con­fer­ence in Lima.

Mr. Vi­dal said a deal would show the world that coun­tries can work to­gether to fight global warm­ing as well as ter­ror­ism.

Chris­tiana Figueres, the head of the UN’s cli­mate change ne­go­ti­a­tions, ad­dressed del­e­gates at the start of the sum­mit.

“Never be­fore has a re­spon­si­bil­ity so great been in the hands of so few,” she said. “The world is look­ing to you. The world is count­ing on you.”

COP21 - the 21st ses­sion of the Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties held from 30th Novem­ber to 11th De­cem­ber - will see more than 190 na­tions gather in Paris to dis­cuss a pos­si­ble new global agree­ment on cli­mate change, aimed at re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions to avoid the threat of dan­ger­ous warm­ing due to hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties.

The talks are tak­ing place amid tight se­cu­rity, just weeks af­ter at­tacks in Paris claimed by the so-called Is­lamic State (IS) group.

Ne­go­tia­tors from 195 coun­tries will try to reach a deal at the meet­ing.

This year, world lead­ers are at­tend­ing the start of the twoweek meet­ing to give im­pe­tus to the talks.

Some 150 heads of state, in­clud­ing US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Xi Jin­ping, have ar­rived at the sum­mit.

Ma­jor points of con­tention in­clude:

Lim­its: The UN has en­dorsed a goal of lim­it­ing global warm­ing to no more than 2 de­grees Cel­cius over pre-in­dus­trial lev­els by the end of the cen­tury. But more than 100 poorer coun­tries and low­ly­ing, small-is­land states are call­ing for a tougher goal of 1.5 de­grees Cel­cius..

Fairness: De­vel­op­ing na­tions say in­dus­tri­alised coun­tries should do more to cut emis­sions, hav­ing pol­luted for much longer. But rich coun­tries in­sist that the bur­den must be shared to reach the 2 de­grees tar­get.

Money: One of the few firm de­ci­sions from the 2009 UN cli­mate con­fer­ence in Copen­hagen was a pledge from rich economies to pro­vide $100 bil­lion (93 bil­lion Eu­ros) a year in fi­nan­cial sup­port for poor coun­tries from 2020 to de­velop tech­nol­ogy and build in­fra­struc­ture to cut emis­sions. Where that money will come from and how it will be dis­trib­uted has yet to be agreed.

Among those at­tend­ing the talks is the broad­caster and nat­u­ral­ist Sir David At­ten­bor­ough. He said he was not con­fi­dent that the Paris talks would pro­duce a deal to tackle the ‘hideous prob­lem’ of cli­mate change.

“We know the con­se­quences of a rise of tem­per­a­ture, what it will do for the oceans, for ex­am­ple,” he told the BBC.

“In­creas­ing tem­per­a­ture of the oceans will cause havoc amongst the fish stocks and sim­i­larly in­creas­ing the tem­per­a­ture of the Earth is caus­ing the spread of deserts.

“The prob­lems of a rise in tem­per­a­tures are huge; it has to be avoided at all costs.”

The Prince of Wales said that hu­man­ity faces no greater threat than cli­mate change, as he is­sued a call for im­me­di­ate ac­tion to tackle ris­ing tem­per­a­tures.

Charles told the sum­mit: “Rarely in hu­man history have so many peo­ple around the world placed their trust in so few.

“Your de­lib­er­a­tions over the next two weeks will de­cide the fate not only of those alive to­day, but also of gen­er­a­tions yet un­born.”

World lead­ers in­clud­ing pres­i­dent of the United States Barack Obama (cen­tre)

are at­tend­ing the Cli­mate Change Sum­mit in Paris.

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