Paris climate talks will go on, organizers say

World leaders, including President Obama, have confirmed their attendance at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris at the end of the November, a move that shows support for both France and climate change action.

Francois Mori/AP
French President Francois Hollande, third right, is seen surrounded by African leaders, from left, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, Guinea's President Alpha Conde, Benin's President Boni Yayi, Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba and Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama. The photo was taken on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, during a press conference at the Elysee Palace as part of preparation for the upcoming COP21 Climate Conference in Paris.

After a wave of deadly terrorist attacks that killed 129 people in Paris Friday night, France says the climate summit scheduled for the end of November will go on as planned.

The conference, taking place Nov. 30-Dec. 11, has been planned for Paris since November, 2013. The goal of the global meeting is to nail down a legally binding deal that will limit rising greenhouse gas emissions.

And despite France’s worse mass casualty attack since World War II on Friday, the conference “will be held because it’s an essential meeting for humanity,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls confirmed to TF1 television Saturday.

The decision to proceed as planned with the Paris climate talks is seen as both an act of solidarity with France after the ISIS terrorist attack, and a nod to the environment’s priority status among world leaders.   

“The feeling is we should go on with business as usual, because you can’t give in to these terrorists,” a European diplomat told Politico on Saturday, adding that his prime minister will attend. “My feeling is heads of state will still go, unless they absolutely cannot.”

French energy minister Ségolène Royal said the conference between world leaders is even more important now, because if it were to be cancelled, "terrorism wins" she told Le Point magazine. 

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), echoed Ms. Royal's sentiment on Twitter.

About 118 world leaders are expected to attend the summit, including President Obama, China’s President Xi Jinping, and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, high-profile figures whose presence in the wake of the attacks calls previously planned security protocol into question. 

“Security at U.N. climate conferences is always tight but understandably it will be even tighter for Paris,” said Nick Nuttall, spokesman of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, Germany.

When asked if the security of COP21 is at risk, replied “No, no, no, no, no, the COP21 is to be held. It will be held with enhanced security measures but it is an absolutely essential action against climate change and of course it will take place."

French authorities say they are using more than 30,000 members of the police force to put controls on 285 different border points across road, rail, sea, and air from now until two days after the conference ends, according to a report by the state-run Radio France Internationale. Agence France-Presse reports security forces will pay particular attention to extreme environmental groups and advocates with a history of violent protests.

And along with 20,000 to 40,000 delegates, thousands of journalists, climate activists and tourists are also expected to make the trip to Paris at the end of the month. Environmental organizations have been planning a march to press for climate action in Paris on Nov. 29, on the eve of the summit. 

While world leaders are still expected to attend, the impact from the terrorist attacks will likely be felt at the citizen level.

“There might be certain people who, like with Charlie Hebdo, choose to come to make a statement on this,” Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe told Politico. “There might be certain others who will be afraid that these marches would be a target, though I would doubt it because there’s not really a precedent.”

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