Climate change advocates are optimistic that last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris have improved the chances of an international climate deal being agreed upon at the upcoming United Nations talks being held in the French capital in less than two weeks.
Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, said on a call with reporters on Wednesday that while there is no way to know for certain what the impact of the attacks will be on the Paris conference, the current spirit of global solidarity bodes well for cooperation.
“There is a degree of, sort of, solidarity internationally over [the attacks] that is not exactly unprecedented, but since 9/11, we haven’t seen anything quite like that,” Steer said. “It is really quite astonishing. It is absolutely amazing — the desire to do something in common … If anything, it stiffens the spine in terms of determination to really” reach a long-term climate change deal.
Steer argued that the effect of the attacks would be “tonal.”
“It is the psychology of these heads of state,” he said. “They are going to be talking about sympathy and solidarity. It is harder for them to go on to say, ‘We are not going to do a deal.’”
Steer’s comments echo remarks made by former Clinton administration climate aide Paul Bledsoe.
“The resolve of world leaders is going to be redoubled to gain an agreement and show that they can deliver for populations around the world,” Bledsoe told Politico. “The likelihood for a successful agreement has only increased because of these attacks.”
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body supervising the talks, hinted at similar optimism in a tweet, insisting that the attacks made the conference more relevant than ever.
Asked for comment on whether the attacks might affect the outcome of the U.N. Conference on Climate Change, or COP21, the State Department referred The Huffington Post to Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent public remarks and interviews on the Paris attacks.
The Paris conference “will be an important statement by the world that no one will interrupt the business of the global community – certainly not despicable, cowardly acts of terror,” Kerry said after meeting with French President François Hollande in Paris on Tuesday.
Kerry will return to Paris with President Barack Obama on Nov. 30 to attend COP21, which is the 21st conference of “parties,” or countries, seeking to act on climate change. It will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in the Paris suburb of Le Bourget.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on Saturday that the climate conference will proceed as planned, with “reinforced security measures.”
“This is an absolutely essential step against climate change and of course it will take place,” Fabius said.
Even if participating nations reach a long-term climate change agreement at the conference, it is not clear what form it will take.
Kerry sparked a public dispute with European leaders when he told the Financial Times on Nov. 11 that any international agreement emerging from the Paris conference would not be a “treaty” with “legally binding reduction targets.”
Senior French and European Union officials insisted that the agreement would be legally binding. Fabius went so far as to say that Kerry was “confused.”
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