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World leaders arriving in Paris for meeting


11-30-2015 09:18 BJT

Full coverage: Xi Attends Paris Climate Talks, Visits Zimbabwe, S. Africa

World leaders are arriving in Paris for the COP21 conference, which opens today and runs through December 11th.  The conference is tasked with reaching a legally binding and universal climate pact. The goal is to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius, perhaps less, over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, by curbing fossil fuel emissions.

On the eve of the UN climate change summit here in Paris, there is some optimism that a deal will be reached. Certainly the stakes are incredibly high. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said the time to act is now. French President Francois Hollande has said this is the last chance to save the planet. Certainly, with 150 world leaders descending on the French capital, due to gather here for the opening ceremony on Monday, a lot of environmental groups are seeing positive sign that may be the world is ready to act. But we have to be cautious, there are some differences between the attending parties. Differences over what form the agreement will take, and over what content the agreement should be, and concerns about how the national pledges to reduce carbon emissions will be measured. 

Meanwhile, across the world, protests have been taking place as climate activists try to push world leaders to tackle climate change, reduce global warming, and reach a deal that has so far been elusive. But of course, here in Paris, protests have been banned in a state of emergency, in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. And police citing security concerns, the protests that have been planned in the French capital could not take place. Despite that, some climate activists did take to the streets today. And there were violent clashes, with police firing tear gas. Protesters could be hearing shouting "Shame on the Republic", and accusing the French authorities and the security services of using the state of emergency as an excuse to clam down and silence the climate activists.

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