In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that shocked the world, Barack Obama has spoken out to convince his fellow world leaders to attend the upcoming climate change summit in Paris. The president is keen to ensure that the summit goes ahead and is hopeful to strike a historic global deal on climate action.
There are growing concerns that the security threats in Paris, along with a lack of media attention on the summit, may undo attempts to reach international agreement on a plan to tackle global warming by reducing the world’s carbon emissions.
The US president said:
“I think it’s absolutely vital for every country, every leader, to send a signal that the viciousness of a handful of killers does not stop the world from doing vital business,”
The terrorist attacks, which killed at least 130 people, have been claimed by the extremist group that calls itself IS (Islamic State), and Obama stressed the importance of showing the radical organisation “that we’re not afraid”. These upcoming climate talks are seen by many as the first chance to do just that.
In the wake of the attacks, the security preparations around the summit have been increased and protests have been banned. As of yet, none of the heads of state due to attend have pulled out- over 130 are expected at the talks.
Some have expressed their concern that the French leadership may now be distracted by the ongoing police activity in their country but it is understood that they are determined not to allow terrorist activity to set their agenda. There many who believe that the security threat may even lead to a greater level of determination to reach an agreement.
Lord Stern was the author of a landmark report, released back in 2006, which displayed the fact that dealing with climate change would be less costly if it was tackled sooner rather than later. He said:
“World leaders are more likely to come, and I don’t think there will be any grandstanding [as seen at previous meetings]. It should be much more collaborative.”
National leaders will only be in Paris for the start of the talks but will set the tone for the rest of the negotiations, which will be carried out by ministers and officials.
Lord Stern went on to say:
“Negotiators will feel that they have to get it done. It’s remarkable how people have been coming together, sharing a recognition of this problem. Paris could be a turning point [in negotiations over global warming]. This is about our common humanity.”
The CEO of the US thinktank World Resources Institute, Andrew Steer, commented saying:
“We’re struck by a greater resolve [to get a deal]. And one can intuitively see why. There is a degree of solidarity internationally over this issue, that is not exactly unprecedented, but since 9/11, we probably haven’t seen quite like that. If anything, it stiffens the spine in terms of determination to really solve what is the greatest collective action problem in history.”
The CEO of Friends of the Earth in the UK, Craig Bennett, has expressed his fear that because of the pressure for Paris to been seen as successful the deal reached may now not be as far-reaching.
“They will want to give Hollande a deal at the end of the day. But the deal may not be as good as it might have been. Countries turning up in Paris will be reluctant for Paris to be seen as a failure, but we have a deal on the table that is not enough – we would have liked to see a stronger deal, and maybe we are less likely to get that now.”
Nick Mabey is head of the lobby group E3G, he believes that the Paris attacks will “not have a huge impact on the outcome, but they will have a huge impact on the tone”.
Mabey believes that there will be less of the emotional outpourings and threats, which have often marred previous rounds of negotiation at the Copenhagen summit in 2009.
“The tone will be more serious, and less festive. Activists will have to find more creative ways to show the world the impact of climate change. There will be less grandstanding, and more focus.”
He believes that Holland will now have a higher level of “moral authority” and that representatives would feel a higher level of responsibility to display “the ability of people to cooperate and bring peace and work together. That is the core message, and it’s really important that this message gets through.”