Despite Attacks, 138 World Leaders to Attend Paris Climate Summit
The Paris attacks are affecting preparations for the climate change conference in the French capital, but leaders are still focussed on clinching a deal, a U.N. envoy said Friday.
"World leaders, one after the other, are reconfirming that they are going to Paris because they think this is an important event," said Janos Pasztor, the U.N. Assistant Secretary-General on climate change.
U.S. President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jingping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the 138 leaders who will attend the climate summit in Paris starting November 30.
Security has been beefed up following the terrorist attacks on November 13 that left 130 dead and hundreds wounded, and a major march has been cancelled.
"The attacks in Paris are affecting the preparations and activities planned for COP21," Pasztor told a news conference.
The U.N. official downplayed suggestions that leaders may switch the conversation from combating catastrophic global warming to battling terrorism during their Paris meetings.
"It's inevitable that when leaders meet, they talk about all the issues that are important," he said.
But he added that they are "putting their travel plans where their mouths are", meaning that their presence in Paris should be seen as proof of how seriously they take the climate issue.
The summit will open in Paris just two weeks after coordinated attacks on a concert hall, football stadium, bars and restaurants that were claimed by the Islamic State group.
While a major march planned for November 29 has been scrapped, there will be more than 2,000 rallies in cities worldwide to press demands for action from the leaders in Paris, said the envoy.
The goal of the climate talks is to strike a deal to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
"The climate change conference in Paris is not the end point," said Pasztor.
"It must mark the floor, not the ceiling of our ambition. It must be the turning point toward a low-emission climate-resilient future."
The envoy said he was optimistic that a deal could be reached, but cautioned that a great deal of work lay ahead to reach a "universal, meaningful agreement."