Monday, November 30, 2015

More Than 100 Arrested at Paris Climate Summit Protest
Sun, 29 Nov 2015

French police arrested more than 100 people following scuffles in the centre of Paris

Some 10,000 people gathered to form a three-kilometre human chain through the city along the route of a cancelled march against climate change.

Although the event was mostly peaceful, clashes erupted in Place de la République between some 200 people and the police shortly afterwards.

Demonstrations in the capital have been temporarily banned under the nationwide state of emergency declared following the deadly Paris attacks on November 13.

Police say 24 activists suspected of planning violent protests have been placed under house arrest in accordance with the state of emergency rules.

Earlier on Sunday, tens of thousands of shoes were laid out on the same square to represent those who had planned to join the march.

The rally was planned to coincide with the eve of the United Nations’ COP 21 climate change conference.

Its aim is to find a mechanism to limit average global temperature increases to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In total 152 heads of state and government are due to attend the Paris forum, just over two weeks after terrorist attacks killed 130 people in the capital.

For some, the first order of business on arrival was to visit the Bataclan concert venue, where the greatest loss of life occurred, to pay tribute to those who died.

Clashes in Paris Before Opening of COP21

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
Mon November 30, 2015

Nearly 150 world leaders are meeting in Paris over one mission: Agree on legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

As global average temperatures soar, they will try to get a handle on the cause.

On Monday, the leaders of the main players necessary to achieve the ambitious goal -- China and the United States -- will sit down together at the COP21. They are also the largest producers of greenhouse gases.

COP stands for Conference of Parties, an annual forum to try to tackle climate on a global political level.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, will hold their bilateral meeting at around 9:30 a.m. local time. Obama will make official remarks three hours later.

The COP21, also named the Paris Climate Change Conference, kicks off under the specter of the November 13 terror attacks in Paris that killed 130, and world leaders will observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims on Monday.

Authorities have clamped down on anti-global warming demonstrations in the city out of security concerns.

Nevertheless, disappointed demonstrators turned out on Sunday, and brief clashes erupted with police at the Place de la Republique, where peaceful protesters had placed rows of shoes and name tags to represent the crowds not allowed to show up.

But violent protesters pelted officers with shoes, bottles and even candles police said were taken from memorials to those killed in the terror attacks, and police arrested more than 200 people.

Paris Police Chief Michel Cadot said taking the candles and using them against police showed "an extreme lack of respect to those events."

Riot police responded with tear gas.

French President Francois Hollande called the clashes "scandalous" and said authorities knew "troubling elements" would arrive in Paris for the talks and said that was why "these sorts of assemblies were banned and some were ordered to stay home."

In many countries, people gathered to protest against human-made climate change on Sunday. There is a broad consensus among scientists that global warming is driven by human activity, foremost the burning of fossil fuels.

A look at the history of the COP illustrates the challenge in achieving this year's goal of a legally binding agreement -- especially when it comes to the biggest greenhouse gas emitters.

Probably the best-known milestone to come out of a previous COP was the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, a nonbinding agreement by 192 states to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

The United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and dropped out of it completely in 2001. Canada dumped it, too, and China, India and other developing countries were exempt from it.

It has taken 20 years of U.N. negotiations to reach this attempt at a legally binding global emissions agreement to prevent a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius higher than during preindustrial times, COP organizers have said.

President Hollande met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday. Afterward, Ban's office released a statement praising France for going ahead with the meeting despite the terror attack. He said he and Hollande had agreed that "failure to reach an agreement was not an option and would have disastrous consequences."

More than 40,000 delegates from 195 countries are attending COP21.

CNN's Jethro Mullen, Kevin Wang and journalist Melia Ljuljanovic contributed to this report.

Cop21 Opens Amid US Railroading

November 30, 2015
From Caesar Zvayi in PARIS, France

THE 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP21, is set to open here today amid indications the dream of coming up with a legally binding, universal agreement on climate change mitigation to curb rising atmospheric temperatures could suffer a stillbirth following an accord struck between the COP21 chair and host, France and the perennial spoilsport and notorious polluter, the United States.

President Mugabe, who carries Africa’s voice as African Union chairman, is set to join 195 other world leaders for the official opening ceremony at the Le Bourguet Complex. A pall, however, hangs over the Summit amid revelations France offered the US a key concession on the eve of the meeting which holds that a new global climate accord will not be called a treaty and might not contain legally binding emission reduction targets, effectively pre-emptying summit deliberations and the main objective of COP21.

Should the Franco-Saxon accord hold sway, it will be de javu for the climate talks as the US again sealed the fate of the Kyoto protocol that COP21 seeks to rectify by refusing to sign this one too. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told the media here that COP21 could not come up with a treaty as that would pose problems for the US as the treaty must pass through Congress for approval.

US secretary of state John Kerry echoed Fabius’ sentiments saying COP21 cannot deliver a treaty that enforces compliance with emissions reduction. Developing countries like Zimbabwe that have agro-based economies depend on rain-fed agriculture and have a majority of their populations living in rural and farming areas, are most affected by the impact of climate change and are keen on fruitful deliberations.

Zimbabweans experienced first hand the effects of global warming during the recent heatwave that broke decades-old temperature records throughout the country. Climate change has also manifested in reduced water inflows from northern Zambia, which feeds the mighty Zambezi River, a development that has curtailed the hydro-power station’s generation capacity culminating in up to 18 hours of load-shedding in many areas.

Zimbabwe and other developing countries are pressing for successful deliberations as they bear the brunt of global warming due to over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture. The dilemma for Africa, however, is that many countries are discovering huge, untapped hydro-carbon reserves which must be used to improve energy access and drive economic growth, but at the same time being mindful of the need to cut down on emissions to combat climate change.

Zimbabwe and other developing countries insist that the industrialised north is not taking a fair share of the burden of climate change given their contribution to the phenomenon and should thus lead by example by cutting emissions and also providing financial support to poorer nations as stated in the Climate Change Convention.

In the wake of successive failures of previous climate change summits, COP21 has been dubbed “last chance for humanity” to find common ground between the north and south on mitigating climate change.

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