Christiana Figueres

Paris on high security alert just weeks before crucial climate summit

The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, have said the climate talks will go ahead. Photo credit: UN Climate Change via Flickr.

By Anders Lorenzen

It was set to be the highest profiled UN climate summit since the failed Copenhagen (COP15) summit in 2009, and optimism for COP21 which starts in two weeks is high.

That was, however, before Paris was struck by a devastating terrorist attack on Friday evening, killing at least 129 people, putting Paris on lockdown and installing a high-security alert.

Questions are now being asked if Paris can host such as high profile event, which, apart from the delegate discussions, would include events spread across the city and a big climate march on the eve of the summit, 29th of November. During the duration of the two-week summit, thousands, including delegates, businesses, politicians, NGO’s, activists and media will enter the city.

On Saturday morning, a crisis meeting was held by the organisers. They have, however, concluded, that, of course, the summit is going to go ahead. A key diplomatic source has now said there was no way it was ever under consideration to be cancel or delay it. One of the key attendees, US President Barack Obama confirmed he would still attend and the UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, tweeted a defiant message.

According to the climate site, Climate Home, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius has stated that everything will go ahead as planned but with heightened security levels and boosted police numbers.

Due to the terror attack, with the terror group Islamic State (IS) having claimed responsibility, any public demonstration has been banned while France continues to investigate the serious incident. So far it is still very unclear what would be allowed to go ahead and what wouldn’t during the summit. But it is likely that civil society is likely to be deprioritized and it’s possible that the climate march that if not cancelled, it would be heavily compromised, as the priority would be to protect world leaders. Though it is important to clarify that it is still very unclear.

But one thing is clear, that with two weeks to go to the summit, the conversations that were meant to be heavily focused on tackling climate change will now, at least leading up to the summit, be on terrorism and curtailing IS.

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