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138 world leaders to attend Paris climate summit: France
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Nov 20, 2015

Paris extends ban on rallies until Nov 30 start of UN climate talks: police
Paris (AFP) Nov 21, 2015 - Paris has extended a ban on public gatherings introduced after the terror attacks in the French capital until November 30, the start of UN climate talks, the city's police headquarters said Saturday.

In a statement the prefecture recalled the "extreme seriousness" of last week's attacks, which left 130 people dead and prompted the government to put in place a three-month state of emergency.

Authorities have already banned two citizens' rallies planned around the climate summit that will be attended by 138 heads of state and government after the worst-ever terror attack on French soil.

The French government has said it will not "give in" to terrorism and insists the long-anticipated conference will go ahead.

A state of emergency put in place immediately after the November 13 attacks was this week extended to three months.

It allows government to place under house arrest anyone considered to be a threat to security, and police to launch raids without advance authorisation from the courts.

Hundreds of such raids have taken place this week, turning up weapons arsenals in people's homes -- a rocket-launcher in one case -- and the flag of the Islamic State group which claimed the attack.

While the state of emergency does not allow control of the press, the interior ministry reserves the right to block websites or social media accounts promoting terrorism.

It also allows authorities to dissolve groups or associations participating in, facilitating or inciting acts which threaten public safety.

Canada environment minister lays out rough climate plan
Ottawa (AFP) Nov 20, 2015 - Canada's new climate minister said Friday that Ottawa will aim higher than the previous administration's target for reducing carbon emissions, but put off announcing what it will be until after the Paris climate summit.

"Canada's existing commitments, made by the previous government, represent only a starting point -- a floor for our post-2020 ambition, not a ceiling," Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said in a speech in Ottawa.

"This will demand a whole of government approach that considers our climate commitment in everything we do," she added.

The previous Tory administration had said it would seek to reduce Canada's carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, after admitting it would miss an earlier, less ambitious goal.

It was panned by environmental activists as the weakest of any industrialized nation.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to meet with the leaders of Canada's 13 provinces and territories to hash out a cohesive climate strategy to bring to the Paris talks starting on November 30. Many of them will also accompany him to the French capital.

The 21st UN Conference of the Parties, also known as COP21, aims to secure a deal to stave off catastrophic climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

Any Canadian emissions plan put forward would include putting a price on carbon, McKenna said.

As well, she announced the creation of a Can$2 billion (US$1.5 billion) fund for projects that "materially reduce carbon emissions" in Canada.

The minister touted larger efforts such as Ontario province's decommissioning of coal-fired power plants, and pilots such as Edmonton's processing of household garbage into biofuel.

She also urged individual Canadians to consider the environment in choosing a car and how often they drive it, and ensuring their homes are energy efficient.

Seeking to assuage fears that new regulations will strangle Canada's energy sector, McKenna commented: "Respecting our obligation to help protect our planet does not mean sacrificing energy production."

A total of 138 heads of state and government so far will attend a climate summit due to kick off in terror-hit Paris on November 30, the French government said Friday.

Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela was the latest to confirm he will be present for the opening by world leaders including US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi of India and Russia's Vladimir Putin, a French presidency official said.

The summit will open in the French capital just two weeks after a coordinated jihadist massacre of 130 people out for dinner, drinks and a concert on a Friday night.

France has said it will not "give up in the face of violence" by cancelling the summit tasked with producing the first-ever deal committing all the world's nations to climate action starting in 2020.

The presidency said no head of state or government had cancelled attendance since last Friday's onslaught by gunmen and suicide bombers.

And French President Francois Hollande, it said, would remain "completely involved" in the conference despite a packed schedule at home and abroad in the wake of the violence.

The conference itself will gather some 40,000 delegates, journalists, observers and exhibitors.

Citing security concerns, the French government has cancelled two mass rallies -- one planned for the eve of the marathon meeting, and the other after its close.

The overarching goal of the climate talks is to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

This is the threshold beyond which scientists warns our host planet will become increasingly inhospitable -- racked by superstorms, drought and land-gobbling sea level rise.

About 170 countries have already filed voluntary carbon-curbing pledges to underpin the future pact, but scientists say the aggregate effect falls far short and Earth is on course for warming of about 3 C, or more.

But negotiators remain deeply divided, with rich and developing nations arguing about who must do what to curb carbon emissions, and who must pay.

Despite attacks, world leaders ready to talk climate in Paris: UN envoy
United Nations, United States (AFP) Nov 20, 2015 - The Paris attacks are affecting preparations for the climate change conference in the French capital, but leaders are still focussed on clinching a deal, a UN envoy said Friday.

"World leaders, one after the other, are reconfirming that they are going to Paris because they think this is an important event," said Janos Pasztor, the UN Assistant Secretary-General on climate change.

US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jingping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the 138 leaders who will attend the climate summit in Paris starting November 30.

Security has been beefed up following the terrorist attacks on November 13 that left 130 dead and hundreds wounded, and a major march has been cancelled.

"The attacks in Paris are affecting the preparations and activities planned for COP21," Pasztor told a news conference.

The UN official downplayed suggestions that leaders may switch the conversation from combating catastrophic global warming to battling terrorism during their Paris meetings.

"It's inevitable that when leaders meet, they talk about all the issues that are important," he said.

But he added that they are "putting their travel plans where their mouths are", meaning that their presence in Paris should be seen as proof of how seriously they take the climate issue.

The summit will open in Paris just two weeks after coordinated attacks on a concert hall, football stadium, bars and restaurants that were claimed by the Islamic State group.

While a major march planned for November 29 has been scrapped, there will be more than 2,000 rallies in cities worldwide to press demands for action from the leaders in Paris, said the envoy.

The goal of the climate talks is to strike a deal to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

"The climate change conference in Paris is not the end point," said Pasztor.

"It must mark the floor, not the ceiling of our ambition. It must be the turning point toward a low-emission climate-resilient future."

The envoy said he was optimistic that a deal could be reached, but cautioned that a great deal of work lay ahead to reach a "universal, meaningful agreement."

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