France’s top diplomat, who will preside over a year-end Paris summit tasked with inking a climate rescue pact, warned Sunday of looming planetary “catastrophe” if negotiations fail.
“It is life on our planet itself which is at stake,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told journalists as ministers and climate envoys from 70 countries met for pre-summit talks to iron out tough political questions.
With the key UN conference just three weeks away, he also announced that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin would attend the November 30 opening.
Russia, a major oil producer, is seen as a deal-maker or -breaker in the years-long attempt to negotiate the world’s first truly universal pact to curb climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.
“There is absolute urgency,” said Fabius, to achieve the UN goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
The UN’s climate science panel has warned of an average temperature rise of “four, five, six degrees, if we do not act extremely quickly,” he said.
“This would have catastrophic consequences because there would be drought… and colossal migration problems, including problems of war and peace.”
A global deal to prevent worst-case-scenario warming is meant to be inked by ministers at the end of a November 30-December 11 Conference of Parties (COP21) in the French capital.
It will be opened by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and some 100 heads of state and government including US President Barack Obama, China’s Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi of India — and now also Putin.
The three-day ministerial “pre-COP” from Sunday to Tuesday, must seek political convergence on key issues still dividing nations, to avoid a repeat of the 2009 Copenhagen summit which ended without a binding global pact.