Tuesday 27 September 2016

Paul Melia in Paris: global peace at stake in climate change issue, Hollande says

Paul Melia Environment Editor in Paris

Published 30/11/2015 | 11:06

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech for the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech for the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

GLOBAL peace is at stake unless countries act together to tackle climate change.

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French President Francois Hollande has told a high-level UN summit that global warming will bring about conflict “like clouds bring storms”, but that it was possible to prevent disaster if countries acted together.

“Climate change will bring conflict just like clouds bring storms,” he said.

“States risk no longer being able to meet the basic needs of their population, with the risk of famines and rural depopulation and clashes over that increasingly scarce resource, water.

“What is at stake at this climate conference is peace.”

Mr Hollande was speaking as 147 world leaders gathered at the UN talks, called the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), for two weeks of intense negotiations aimed at striking a legally-binding deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions and prevent dangerous climate change.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will address the conference this afternoon, along with other Heads of State including

US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Kenny is expected to call for an ambitious deal to limit emissions, and to outline Ireland's plans to tackle climate change.

Almost 200 nations have committed to reducing emissions, but scientists warn the pledges are not enough to keep warming below 2C – the tipping point beyond which catastrophic change is expected.

Average global temperatures have already increased by 1C this century, and developing nations most at risk have called for a maximum hike of 1.5C.

Mr Hollande said no country would escape the ravages of climate change, but that poorest countries which bore the least responsibility for emissions would be hardest hit.

“No country or region is spared the events of climate change, but how can we accept that the poorest countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions are the most affected?” he said.

“It is in the name of climate justice that we must act.”

Major polluters including the US, China and India have agreed to limit emissions, and it is hoped that agreement will be reached at the conference for a system of independently verifying if targets have been met.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that “good wishes” and “declarations of intent” would not be enough.

“Here in Paris, we will decide on the future of the planet”, he warned.

“The agreement must be lasting. It must send a clear signal to the market that it (a low carbon future) is

inevitable.”

The French Government, which is hosting COP 21, wants an agreement to be universal and binding, with a need for a “regular assessment” of progress, with meetings every five years.

“We need to ensure sustainable and equitable development while not compromising our scarce resources. This is the equation we have to solve during this conference,” Mr Hollande said.

Security is tight around the Le Bourget conference venue in the north of the city, with some 2,800 police on site.

Access roads have been closed to the public, and attendees told to use public transport.

Around 30,000 people are expected to attend over the next two weeks.

A number of announcements are expected today including long-term investment plans from governments and the private sector in clean energy projects and cooperation on rolling out solar energy to produce electricity from the sun.

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