Still reeling from the worst terrorist attacks in French history, Paris will host nearly 140 world leaders gathering next week to spearhead a climate pact tasked with keeping Earth liveable for humanity.
US President Barack Obama has urged others to follow his example and come to the French capital to show that “a handful of killers does not stop the world from doing vital business.” No heads of state or government backed out of the November 30 opening after jihadist assaults killed 130 people just over a week ago, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday.
“On the contrary, some who had not yet responded have said they will come exactly because we cannot give in to terrorism,” he said. Preoccupied by a recent spate of extremist attacks around the globe, world leaders will have their work cut out for them at the 12-day climate huddle.
The highly-anticipated conference is tasked with fixing a problem that threatens the very well-being of our species: global warming. After six years of preparatory negotiations, the 195 nations gathering under the UN flag remain sharply divided on a raft of intertwined issues. There are at least three battlegrounds where the talks could stumble. As always, the first is money.
In Copenhagen in 2009 – the last time countries sought to craft a universal climate pact and failed – it was agreed that poorer nations vulnerable to global warming impacts would receive USD 100 billion (94 billion euros) per year from 2020.
The money is to help them give up fossil fuels, and to shore up defences against climate-driven food scarcity, heat waves and storm damage. International climate finance has grown steadily, reaching USD 62 billion in 2014, according to an estimate commissioned by the UN.
But developing nations want assurances that the flow of money will be recession-proof, come from public sources, and be earmarked for boosting resilience. India’s environment and climate minister Prakash Javadekar said last week that “predictable, scalable and new finance” is a redline issue.
Along with many other developing countries, New Delhi’s pledge to engineer a massive switch to renewable energy is conditional on such aid. Some 50 nations – home to a billion people – federated in the Climate Vulnerable Forum, meanwhile, are also pushing for funds for “loss and damage” from climate change impacts that can no longer be avoided.
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