Although a string of terrorist attacks across Beirut, Baghdad, and Paris in November left almost 200 people dead, the French government has vowed to push on with the United Nations Climate Summit (COP21).
World leaders from 190 countries are expected to gather in Paris on November 30.
The goal of COP21 is to reach an international agreement that will cut greenhouse gas emissions and stop global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.
Two degrees is the target because climate experts warn any global temperature spike about that could bring devastating consequences, like unavoidable sea level rise and unpredictable shifts in weather. Our current emission rate has already brought us half way to that dangerous tipping point, with no global strategy in place to combat climate change.
It’s clear that the Paris climate talks are coming at a pivotal point in our planet’s future, but in the wake of the carnage that unfolded last week and left 129 dead in Paris alone, the stakes are even higher. That’s why France has said it will not delay the talks.
“To do otherwise would, I believe, be to yield to terrorism,” French prime minister Manuel Valls said on RTL radio.
Still, France is taking necessary precautions. It has reinstated border controls and it will significantly increase security during the conference.
“This is an absolutely necessary step in the battle against climate change and of course it will take place,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday, Bloomberg reported.
The main climate discussion will still happen, but most extra side events scheduled around the conference are canceled, according to several news reports.
There’s no sign that any countries are pulling out of the negotiations in the wake of the attacks. The UN is still expecting tens of thousands of people, including government officials, company representatives, and press, to arrive in the capital November 30 through December 11.
President Barack Obama and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping are among some of the leaders who will attend the conference. As the two biggest polluters in the world, the US and China have already reached a private agreement to curb emissions, but this Paris talk could yield the first agreement that applies to all countries.
As German Deputy Environment Minister Jochen Flasbarth tweeted, the attacks last week have not derailed the climate talks — they have only strengthened resolve:
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