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World leaders to show solidarity at Paris climate talks

Published 21/11/2015

France has reintroduced temporary border controls in preparation for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (AP)
France has reintroduced temporary border controls in preparation for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (AP)

More than 120 world leaders will show solidarity with France by attending crucial climate change talks in Paris later this month a United Nations chief has said.

Janos Pasztor, the UN assistant secretary general for climate change, said preparations for the talks and some activities had been affected by last Friday's terror attacks. France has also reintroduced border controls leading up to the talks from November 30 to December 11.

A huge march had been planned for November 29 by supporters of an agreement to reduce carbon emissions , which has now been cancelled by the French government .

But Mr Pasztor said dozens of world leaders still planned to attend. "They think this is an important event," he said. "So they are putting their travel plans where their mouth is and they will be there to support the climate negotiations."

Mr Pasztor expressed hope that leaders would still heed the voices of the supporters who will now be holding marches in more than 2,000 cities and towns around the world during the weekend of November 29.

At the same time, he said, a huge number of climate-related events were being organised in Paris outside the centre where the United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place.

"Inevitably, where there's a situation where there's a state of emergency, there will be some impacts on those - but still the events are going ahead and there's been a very strong sense both from Paris itself and the eventual participants that people intend to go to those meetings and intend to show solidarity with France and participate," Mr Pasztor said.

"So the conference is going ahead and all the related events are going ahead. That's the bottom line."

World governments are meeting to craft a new UN pact to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

While it is inevitable that leaders will discuss the co-ordinated attacks in Paris claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group that killed 130 people, Mr Pasztor said he expected their main focus to be on reaching an agreement, which all governments want.

He said 171 countries that collectively account for more than 90% of emissions - including top polluters China, the United States, the European Union and India - have submitted national climate plans with targets.

"If successfully implemented, these national plans bend the emission curve down to a projected global temperature rise of approximately two degrees Celsius by the end of the century," he said. "While this is significant progress, it is still not enough."

"The challenge now is to move much further and faster to reduce global emissions so we can keep the global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius."

He stressed that the Paris conference "must mark the floor, not the ceiling of our ambition".

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon met leaders from the Group of 20 rich and developing nations last weekend and will meet south-east Asian leaders this week and heads of state and government from the Commonwealth next week "to help unblock progress on several sticking points" in the hoped-for agreement, Mr Pasztor said.

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