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COP21: The Heat is On, Leaders Due Monday, Protests Banned

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By Adrian Lancashire
COP21: The Heat is On, Leaders Due Monday, Protests Banned

The United Nations summit to address climate change is on track to open on Monday at Le Bourget in Paris with more than 130 heads of state and government due to attend, plus delegates; so far no one has cancelled.

The planet is in our hands.

Security includes some 11,000 police and gendarmes, many at the borders.

‘Le Bourget, Forbidden City as of Sunday,’ reads one local media headline.

Authorisation for any demonstrations has been revoked, in the context of the Nov. 13th terrorist attacks.

The negotiating programme is supposed to lead to everyone agreeing on steps to take to limit the global average temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900).

French President François Hollande said: “We want an agreement to be reached, not just any agreement, but one that is ambitious and binding, an agreement which can be reviewed so as to reach our aim to limit global warming to less than 2 ºC by the end of the century.”

Previous summits with this goal largely failed because agreements were not ratified by countries with major developed economies or those with economies still under development but which rank among the world’s giant polluters, read the US, China, India, Russia and Brazil. These are also the biggest producers of CO2 emissions to which global warming is largely attributed.

President Obama has warned, ‘watch out, we’re the last generation with a chance to put the brakes on’ (paraphrased). Even President Xi of China admits this is a crucial summit.

Russia’s proposals are being criticised.

Brazil is making an effort, notably against deforestation.

India, which has deferred concrete limits on emissions this far, says it is now open to suggestions.

The bulk of the world’s scientists say human activities are the main cause of worsening climate changes, while sceptics argue these are all part of a natural process, producing the heat waves, droughts, flooding, severe storms, ice melting and other extreme phenomena.

Concerned citizens may be heartened that one of the summit’s main slogans is: “The planet is in our hands.” It might give them pause that some of the biggest companies are lobbying in the policy mix, and think that, too.