Closed COP21 Paris climate summit opening day – as it happened

The latest round of global talks on climate change, dubbed COP21, begins today in Paris. Environmental campaigners want leaders to agree on emissions cuts, with the goal of limiting temperature increases to 2C.

However, prospects of a deal remain uncertain, in part because rich and poorer nations are struggling to agree on how those cuts should be paid for. Developing countries believe that those who have already become wealthy on the back of burning fossil fuels should shoulder most of the financial burden.

Key developments

Read our bluffer’s guide to the talks here.


Welcome to our live coverage of the COP21 climate change talks in Paris. Twitter users can also follow our reporters who are at the summit itself:

@pilitaclark – environment correspondent
@ChassNews – Paris bureau chief
@MStothard – Paris correspondent


The carpet in Paris is green rather than red, but it feels a bit like the political Oscars this morning as heads of state arrive in droves.

https://twitter.com/RoyalSegolene/status/671246873865375744


With prospects of a deal uncertain, some leaders are taking extra measures, reports Pilita Clark:

Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, opens the COP with the news he is wearing the same tie he wore at the last COP he hosted in Lima a year ago, for good luck.


We’ve got plenty of good reading material to get you caught up on what’s at stake today in Paris, such as….

Our special report on climate change.
Our bluffers’ guide to the talks.
The science behind climate change.
Our interactive climate change calculator.


Where does everyone stand in the climate talks? A handy guide here from Carbon Brief.


A bit more fun: where does everyone sit?

https://twitter.com/DirectActus/status/671237397816938496


And here is the key document that is actually up for discussion.


Anne-Sylvaine Chassany is on the ground in Paris as leaders arrive:

Francois Hollande, French president, is now personally welcoming leaders at Le Bourget, along with Segolene Royal, energy minister (and mother of his four children).

Ms Royal is somehow managing to capture and tweet most of those arrivals. Here, with Prince Charles.

https://twitter.com/RoyalSegolene/status/671250826137092096


Michael Stothard has been listening in as the talking starts. There are due to be mini-speeches by all 150 attending heads of state today, so there will be a lot of talking to get through.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, speaking at the opening of the conference, gives a not terribly pithy account of what they want to achieve. They need to find “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all parties”. So that’s clear then.


As the leaders keep streaming in at Le Bourget, there’s lots of talk in the corridors about the article India’s PM, Narendra Modi, says Pilita Clark.

Writing for the FT today, he issued a blunt warning that it would be “morally wrong” for wealthy countries to stop leading the fight against climate change.

Here’s a taster:

The best political and technical measures will be ineffective, and our collective efforts inequitable, unless we review a lifestyle that overburdens our planet. Nature can provide when it is in equilibrium, not when it is depleted faster than it can renew. Our targets must seek to drive restraint in use of fossil fuel and moderation in our lifestyles.


Nick Butler, the energy economist and FT columnist , has a downbeat assessment of the chances of success at Paris here

His central point is the talks are driven by politics when the “practical answers (to climate change) lie elsewhere”.

Commitments on emissions are set to be vague and in any event will not be legally binding. The transfer of resources from rich countries to help developing countries reduce hydrocarbon usage will be limited. But Butler’s main concern is there will no resolve to adopt a “serious” carbon price to curb emissions – “the one policy measure that could actually change behaviour” he says.


Christiana Figueres, the UN’s top climate official, has laid down the gauntlet to the attendees.

https://twitter.com/UNFCCC/status/671261863905202176


Prince Charles gets one of the first speaker slots at COP21, a recognition of his role as one of the world’s greenest royals, explains Pilita.

“While the planet can survive the scorching of the earth and the rising of the waters, the human race cannot,” he says. “If the planet were a patient, we would have treated her long ago.”

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/671263330946936832


While Xi Jinping is in Paris this morning, where the particulate reading currently ranges from 16-43, Beijing is once again suffering from chronic air pollution. The Chinese capital has a PM2.5 reading of 584 at the moment, according to aqicn.org.

The World Health Organisation reckons anything above 25 is bad for you.


Nicholas Stern is looking to agreement in Paris to deliver a rush of private sector investment in renewables.

The author of the 2006 UK government report on the economics of climate change says key to this will be “clear and effective domestic policies” by governments who he says pose the “biggest threat to investment”.

You can read his comments here


For a sense of just how much talking will go on at these talks, take a look at the rundown of addresses today from global leaders. These will take place – all 150 of them – in two rooms simultaneously. Here’s a taster of a slice of the afternoon session in Meeting Room Loire:


German businesses have been airing their worries this morning about the costs of cutting emissions, Jeevan Vasagar in Berlin reports.

A global carbon pricing system is necessary to tackle climate change, Germany’s industry lobby warned on Monday, in an indication of exporters’ fears about being disadvantaged by a European scheme to raise the cost of carbon emissions.

BDI President Ulrich Grillo said in a statement: “The world climate conference in Paris will decide whether our industry remains competitive. Ambitious climate policy cannot be a disadvantage for business.”

The industry association, which represents over 100,000 German employers, is a critic of Germany’s shift away from nuclear power and fossil fuels to renewable energy, which is subsidised with levies on energy users.

Though energy-intensive German companies with international clients pay just 15 per cent of the renewables levy, German manufacturers remain envious of US counterparts who have benefited from the shale gas boom.


More on the smog shrouding Beijing today, from state news agency Xinhua.

https://twitter.com/XHNews/status/671227372130181120

Although Xinhua did refer to it as “heavy fog” earlier on.

https://twitter.com/XHNews/status/671209886311559168


The FT’s Jamie Smyth reports on an unhelpful move by the Australian government backtracking on a commitment to ban subsidies for fossil fuels, apparently after pressure from mining and farm interests.

Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, was due to sign up to support the Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Reform Communique, which is due to be presented by John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister in Paris tonight.

But concerns that signing could threaten Australia’s policy of making diesel fuel rebates available to farmers and miners prompted Mr Turnbull to back away from supporting the communique.


François Hollande gets things started:

https://twitter.com/COP21/status/671271329727946752


Hollande says that the attacks in Paris should be a call to action:

“Tragic events represent an affliction, but also an obligation. They force us to focus on what is important … We must leave our children more than a world without terror. We must leave them a viable planet.”

He also links climate change to security:

“Climate change will bring conflict … Risks of famine, mass rural exodus, conflict over access to that increasingly rare resource, water. Essentially what is at stake from this climate conference is peace.”

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/671273962911985664


Some handy data visualisation on climate change over at The Economist today.

https://twitter.com/deniselaw_/status/671275657146605568


Hollande has outlined three conditions that need to be met for the Paris climate change talks to be a success:

1) Define a trajectory that will allow temperatures to rise by less than 2C, which means setting up a 5-year revision mechanism to monitor progress.

2) Solidarity of all participants: Each country must contribute even if there will be a differentiation mechanism taking into account the various states of development.

“The accord needs to be universal, differentiated and binding. Developed nations need to recognise their historical responsibility, while developing countries needs to be supported to adapt.”

3) All the members of civil society also need to join in.


US President Obama and Chinese President Xi have issued remarks ahead of bilateral meeting in Paris. This from Obama:

As the two largest economies in the world and the two largest carbon-emitters, we have both determined that it is our responsibility to take action. And since our historic joint announcement of our post-2020 climate targets in Beijing last year, more than 180 countries have followed in announcing their own targets. And so our leadership on this issue has been absolutely vital, and I appreciate President Xi’s consistent cooperation on this issue.

The United States and China also come here with a common vision for what’s needed in a Paris agreement, including moving toward a low-carbon global economy in this century, enhancing transparency to build trust, and robust financial support to help developing countries adapt. And here in Paris, we will be working together to try to deliver on that vision.


FT columnist Martin Sandbu has an interesting observation on India’s attitude to the talks. He says rather than engaging in “antagonistic rhetoric” India would be better served embracing the idea that emissions quotas be allocated based on a country’s population size.

Sandbu points out that although India is the third largest producer of carbon, on a per capita basis it produces less than China and the US, and may already be below the target scientists believe is needed to contain global temperature increases.

On a per capita basis, India emits far, far less than the US and China, and may indeed emit less than the per capita level compatible (if everyone else did too, which they won’t on current trends) with meeting the elusive goal of keeping global temperatures within 2 degrees of pre-industrial ones. So it should have everything to gain from pushing for rules based on equal allowances of emissions per capita, within an internationally tradeable quota system.

You can read his column here


Another image from Beijing today:

https://twitter.com/BFMTV/status/671281533018374144


And its not just Beijing that is suffering. Take a look at Delhi:

Have a closer look here.


We already know where the leaders will be sitting, and now we know, courtesy of AFP, what they’ll be eating too.

https://twitter.com/afpfr/status/671283294202294273


Bill Gates and other billionaires are offering to use their wealth to help green energy entrepreneurs bridge the so-called funding “valley of death”.

Gates, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, and the UK’s Sir Richard Branson of Virgin are among around 20 investors in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition fund which will support new technologies to fight climate change.

Sky has the story here


Beijing and Delhi competing today to see just who has the most revolting air.

https://twitter.com/XHNews/status/671287962747834368


French President Francois Hollande has warned that “goodwill and statements of intent” from delegates to the Paris talks will not be enough to solve the climate change crisis.

In remarks launching the conference Hollande reiterated that a deal to try to keep any further increase in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius needed to be “universal, differentiated and binding”, with richer countries contributing more than poorer ones.

Less than a month after the terrorist attacks on Paris, the French president said world peace was at stake in the talks.

“I can’t separate the fight with terrorism from the fight against global warming. These are two big global challenges we have to face up to, because we have to leave our children more than a world freed of terror, we also owe them a planet protected from catastrophes.”



Whenever world leaders get together in one place, the meetings on the sidelines can become more interesting than the main event, says the FT’s Peter Spiegel.

One session worth watching was just announced by the European Commission: Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission president, is due to meet UK prime minister David Cameron amidst mounting signals Mr Cameron will be unable to strike a deal on his demands to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with Brussels in time for next month’s high-profile EU summit.

Mr Juncker will play a significant role in deciding whether the talks can be concluded at the summit or must be pushed into 2016.


The Economist looks at the threat posed by climate change to bio-diversity. By 2050, it says, 18-35 per cent of species could be on the path to extinction without a deal to address rising temperatures.

Read further here


Among the 150 world leaders who are due to speak today, US president Barack Obama is now making his address:

He says as the world’s largest economy “we embrace our responsibility to do something about it [climate change]” as he runs through a list of alternative energies that have been invested in and amazingly says the government has said “no” to projects that pull fossil fuels out of the ground . . . that may well be true but the shale gas revolution has transformed the US into a net exporter of fossil fuels again. He says America is on track to meet the targets set in Copenhagen. Last year he set new target and says America will reduce its emission levels by 26% below where they are now in 10 years time. He also said climate change was a battle against cynicism, the idea that “we can’t do anything about it”


We have a bit more from the FT’s Peter Spiegel further to the post at 11:36am in which he revealed there would be a meeting on the sidelines between UK prime minister David Cameron and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, amid signals that Cameron will be unable to strike a deal on his demands to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with Brussels in time for next month’s high-profile EU summit.

Peter adds:

A commission spokeswoman said the Cameron-Juncker meeting is scheduled for 1pm, and said there would be a “stock taking” of the progress on the UK renegotiations.


President Obama, who is addressing the conference now, says there is limited time left to address the global climate change crisis.

“There is such a thing as being too late, and when it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us.”


China’s president Xi Jinping is delivering his speech to delegates right now. Pilita Clark, the FT’s environment correspondent reports:

He is calling on developed countries to honour their commitments to provide financial support to poorer nations to help them deal with climate change – one of the most fraught bones of contention in the UN talks.

Addressing climate change should not deny the legitimate needs of developing countries, he says.


More on Obama’s speech earlier from Michael Stothard, one of the three FT reporters at the summit on the outskirts of Paris:

Obama’s speech was filled with florid rhetoric, saying that climate change would “define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other” and adding: “We are the 1st generation to feel climate change and the last that can do something about it”

In terms of meat, he did not go into details about what should be in the agreement but said that money would have to be provided to help developing countries to “skip the dirty phase of their development… Lets make sure resources flow to countries that need help.”

He also said again that we “must have a revision mechanism” as well so pledges already made by countries – so called INDCs – to reduce carbon emissions can be reviewed and raised in the future. We need “not a stop-gap solution but a long-term strategy,” he said.


It looks like Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdoğan will not use Paris as an opportunity to try to ease tensions between the two countries over the shooting down of a Russian combat aircraft by Turkey last week. A Kremlin spokesman earlier said there were “no contacts planned”.

The two men are seen below arriving at COP21 in photos from AFP:


Two tweets from Victor Mallet in Delhi, that neatly sum up the key challenge facing those in Paris today: how to create growth without poisoning everyone.

https://twitter.com/VJMallet/status/671287127598993410

https://twitter.com/VJMallet/status/671304639669805056


The FT’s Andrew Hill says oil and resources companies could face their very own “Kodak moment” if they do not show more urgency finding alternative technologies to address the problem of climate change.

The climate challenge differs from the “boiling frog” scenario, in which the slowly cooking creature is oblivious to its fate. It reminds me rather of the fatal flaw of Eastman Kodak. It foresaw the advent of digital photography as early as the 1970s. But the arrival of the digital products that ultimately drove it into bankruptcy was staggered over 30 years. Crucially, the margins Kodak could harvest from roll-film stayed high until relatively late in its history.

You can read the full article here


Better reach for the wide-angle lens. Leaders in Paris pose for their family photo.

https://twitter.com/TheLocalFrance/status/671295931569057792


A bit more from Xi’s speech, via the FT’s Anne-Sylvaine Chassany:

“‘It is imperative to respect differences between countries,” Xi said. ”Countries should be allowed to pick their own solutions.”‘


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been speaking. Anne-Sylvaine says she struck a defiant tone when addressing the climate conference in Paris:

“‘By being here, we show that we’re stronger than the terrorists.”

“By a comprehensive deal, we mean a profound transformation of the way we do business.”

“‘By fair, we means that industrialised countries (… ) will have to take the lead. Emissions of the past have been caused by us.”‘

She also said the accord needed to be binding:

“We also need a binding review mechanism, every 5 years starting from 2020.”

“Contributions are voluntary but we need to live up to these commitments, they cant be reduced, on the contrary.”

Reuters caught the German chancellor earlier conferring with her environment minister Barbara Hendricks:


Two thirds of Americans want President Obama to back an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming, according to a poll for The New York Times and CBS News.

The NYT has the story here


Here’s a bit from the FT’s Michael Stothard on the heavy security presence at the summit. You may recall that in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on Paris in mid-November, there were questions about whether the city should host such a big meeting of world leaders. The response from across the globe was one of defiance, with many of the heads of state stating their attendance was as much a show of solidarity with the French people.

The 150 world leaders have arrived in Le Bourget under a heavy security presence, with 6,300 police officer and gendarmes around the site – a fairly enormous number given that there are around 20,000 people at the conference today, There are also several hundred special UN security forces guarding the so-called UN “blue zone” where UN offices are.

Riot police vans and plainclothes officers are stationed around the capital and the northern suburb of Le Bourget, as French authorities had banned protests in Paris as part of a state of emergency following the terrorist attacks in Paris November 13th.

Despite the ban on protests, thousands of people in Paris gathered to create a two-kilometre human chain on Sunday evening. This turned violent around La Republique metro station in the east of Paris when a band of anti-capitalist clashed with riot police, leading to hundreds of arrests.

Coming into the conference this morning, the armed police presence seems substantial but not excessive. Security getting into the conference – scanning bags and having passes checked – was surprisingly rapid for such a high profile event.

And there are road closures across the French capital today as shown in this photo from AFP/Getty:


Paris is hosting 151 global leaders, but some have more star power than others.

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/671310710174035968


More from the sidelines of the summit where as the FT’s Peter Spiegel observed earlier, you often find the “more interesting” stuff. Bloomberg reports that French President Francois Hollande and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi have agreed on the “absolute necessity” to combat Islamic State everywhere, citing Hollande’s office, adding:

Combating Islamic State requires a political transition in Syria and a national unity government in Libya “as soon as possible,” the two men agreed at a meeting in Paris on the sidelines of a climate conference, Hollande’s office said. Here’s a photo of the two men from EPA:


So-called “pirate ads” have sprung up across the French capital, denouncing companies and world leaders. The FT’s Anne-Sylvaine Chassany has just retweeted this:

https://twitter.com/ChassNews/status/671305839974752256

Click on the BFMTV link to get to the original Tweet


Xi Jinping, China’s president, quotes the words of Victor Hugo, the French dramatist and poet in his speech to the Paris conference on climate change.

“Supreme resources spring from extreme resolutions,” the Chinese leader says.


Here are a few AFP snaps to give you an idea of the sort of mingling taking place among world leaders as they grab a few moments with each other, with the odd big name caught in the foreground or background. No prizes for guessing what the topic of conversation might be:

Here is US president Obama and his Ukrainian counterpart Poroshenko (although we can’t see who they are talking to but we guess it isn’t Putin):


And here’s UK prime minster David Cameron and France’s François Hollande – most likely topic: will Cameron get the backing of parliament to join the French in airstrikes against Isis in Syria OR could it be the UK’s relationship with Brussels?


And here’s an AFP snap of the scene taking place either moments earlier or just after the Cameron-Hollande chat. With the UK prime minister seemingly interjecting in a conversation between German chancellor Angela Merkel and some European royalty: Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince Albert II of Monaco. Whatever he said, Prince Albert and Ms Merkel seemed to find it funny, Prince Charles however does not appear amused:


Bolivia’s president Evo Morales echoes many in the developing world in blaming capitalism and the west for climate change.

Mother Earth is getting close to the end and the capitalist system is partly responsible for that. Capitalism has fostered and introduced and driven forward over the past 200 years the most savage and destructive formula against our species, he told the Paris conference.

Here is president Morales caught earlier by AFP with French environment minister Ségolène Royal


These two of course know each other well and can converse in either of their native languages. This AFP photo shows Angela Merkel, the world’s most powerful woman, with one of the planet’s most powerful men, Vladimir Putin:


Those with a smog fetish should be looking beyond China right now. Here’s what Delhi looked like yesterday. Pity those poor half marathon runners.


Even though there is a ban on protests in Paris, it did not stop demonstrators gathering on Sunday in the French capital, which eventually led to violent clashes with police:


Here are a couple more pictures from AP of the protests yesterday, before and after the clashes with police:


Confirmation from the Russian embassy in London that there will be no meeting between Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdoğan on the sidelines in Paris. But the Russian president is meeting Barack Obama:

https://twitter.com/RussianEmbassy/status/671319311617773568


Here’s some very upbeat reaction to the speeches earlier from four of the world’s most powerful leaders from the World Resources Institute, a climate think-tank financed by a number of European governments:

Jennifer Morgan, Global Director, Climate Program, at the World Resources Institute said:

Chancellor Merkel sees the urgency in addressing the climate crisis as well as the promise in shifting to a zero-carbon economy.

Her support for strengthening country commitments every five years — starting in 2020 — is particularly important to informing negotiations in the coming days. She reiterated her call for a long-term goal in the agreement to decarbonize the global economy over the course of this century.

President Putin’s speech was a constructive addition to the climate talks.

He acknowledged the grave challenge that climate change poses for all of humanity and lent his support to reaching an international, binding agreement that keeps global temperature rise below 2 degrees.

President Xi showed his resolve to address climate change and reach a strong agreement, with all countries taking action. His comments show that China is ready to step into a pivotal role in reaching common ground on key issues here in Paris.

Xi embraced China’s role of the largest emerging economy to help developing countries to tackle climate change via south–south cooperation, providing financial, technological and capacity building support.

And David Waskow, International Climate Director, World Resources Institute added:

Today President Obama clearly conveyed that he understands what’s at stake, especially for the most vulnerable communities around the world. He underscored that the United States is fully committed to leading by example in the fight against climate change at home and here in Paris. His call for cooperation not conflict is one that will resonate around the world.


We do try to avoid cliches here at the FT but in this case I think it is fair to say that a picture really is worth a thousands words. Either that or we could enter this Reuters photo for a caption competition. Suffice to say, if the handshake between Obama and Putin went this well, we can only wonder what was said during the bilateral talks in Paris:


If you want a quick low down on who the biggest culprits are in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, do have a read of this blog from the aforementioned World Resources Institute entitled “6 Graphs Explain the World’s Top 10 Emitters” – here’s one of them:


Here is a reminder of the impact of climate change around the world with the caveat that not everyone agrees that global warming is the main factor. The US state Texas has this year gone from being in the midst of a state of emergency caused by drought to a state of emergency caused by hurricanes, heavy rains and flooding. A deadly storm this weekend dumped more rain into already swollen rivers as this image from Ronald W. Erdrich of The Abilene Reporter supplied by AP shows:


Down in Argentina scientists blame the retreat of the famous Perito Moreno glacier, along with the majority of the almost fifty other glaciers that make up the world’s third largest ice field in the Los Glaciares National Park, on global warming. Here’s a stunning Getty Images photo of the park:


This just in from AP, on the talks between US president Obama and his Russian counterpart Putin on the sidelines in Paris. Not surprisingly, the focus is on Syria and Turkey, following the downing of the Russian jet last week – the first time a Nato country has shot down a Russian combat aircraft (see photo from EPA below) in at least half a century:

President Barack Obama is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to decrease tensions with Turkey following the shoot-down of a Russian jet by Turkish forces. Obama and Putin met briefly on the sidelines of global climate talks outside Paris.

The White House says Obama expressed regret for the death of a Russian pilot and crew member in that incident.

The White House says Obama told Putin that Syrian President Bashar Assad must leave power in the transition to end Syria’s civil war. Obama is also calling on Russia to focus its airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State militants, not rebels fighting Assad.

The Kremlin says both Obama and Putin expressed urgency for a political resolution in Syria during their 30-minute meeting. The two leaders also discussed implementing a ceasefire in Ukraine.


A few more snippets in from world leaders courtesy of the FT’s Michael Stothard.

Firstly, representing one of many voices of the vulnerable island nations, Baron Waqa, president of Nauru, said: “Those with resources must step up, and help those with political will.”

Nauru is a remote island in the South Pacific and one of the smallest nation states in the world. In case you can’t locate it, here’s a reminder courtesy of Google maps:


And Michael Stothard also reports that Turkish president Recep Erdoğan laid out concerns of many of the developing nations, saying that the final accord needed to maintain the controversial principle of differentiation, a clause that many developed nations are keen to change. “What needs to be clarified first is differentiation. The principle of common but differential should be maintained [in the Paris accord],” he said.

He added that funds should be made available for those suffering from the effects of climate change. “Mitigation and adaptation should be address equitably,” he said. “The main responsibility on this issues should be maintained by the developed countries.”


So we are still wading our way through the opening remarks from what we are now told are 151 heads of state/government, plus at least one member of royalty in the form of Britain’s Prince Charles. As it stands, delegates are listening to concurrent speeches from:

Sauli Niinistö, the president of Finland

and

Rosen Plevneliev, the president of Hungary


Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, is speaking and has put things in perspective for his country, saying it contributes just 0.1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. He adds that “two-thirds of our power generation capacity is green.”


Peter Christian, president of Micronesia, is making a heartfelt plea for the big countries to wake up and stop making excuses. He has heard enough from other world leaders about what to do about global warming. He says the nation states of the Pacific “do not need convincing” that the world faces a problem and he calls on the UN to call an emergency now. “There are island communities in the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean that may not be there by 2030,” he adds.


The FT’s Michael Stothard is not sure what message the Indian delegation is trying to send:

https://twitter.com/MStothard/status/671355933000400896


This image of a Greenpeace campaign has just come in from AFP

It is fair to say that Peter Christian, president of Micronesia, has called out a lot of his more powerful counterparts and implied their words are no different to the hot air used to fill up this balloon.


David Akin, the parliamentary bureau chief of Canada’s Sun Media, highlights this rather telling comment from the prime minister of Tuvalu, another Pacific island under threat from rising water levels

https://twitter.com/davidakin/status/671360328555487232


It looks like the heads of state either haven’t stuck to their alloted timeslots or the conference organisers have got the timings all wrong. As a reminder, each of the heads of state/government plus a few other bigwigs each make opening remarks. This is happening concurrently in two separate plenary sessions but as it stands in session one we have the president of Iraq speaking now, Fuad Masum and according to the COP21 website he is still to be followed by:

His Excellency Mr. Ikililou Dhoinine, President of Comoros (the)
His Excellency Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea
His Excellency Mr. Joseph Kabila Kabange, President of Democratic Republic of the Congo (the)
His Excellency Mr. Michel Kafando, President of Burkina Faso
His Excellency Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
His Excellency Mr. Malcom Bligh Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia
Her Excellency Ms. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway
His Excellency Mr. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark
His Excellency Mr. Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy
His Excellency Mr. Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados
His Excellency Mr. Henry Puna, Prime Minister of Cook Islands (the)
His Excellency Mr. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa
His Excellency Mr. Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece
His Excellency Mr. Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia
His Excellency Mr. Miro Cerar, Prime Minister of Slovenia
His Excellency Mr. Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia
His Excellency Mr. Abdelmalek Sellal, Prime Minister of Algeria
His Excellency Mr. Antoni Martí Petit, Head of Government of Andorra
His Excellency Mr. Sigmundur Davíd Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland
His Excellency Mr. Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of Czech Republic (the)
His Excellency Mr. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta
His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of the State of Holy See (the)
His Excellency Mr. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of Netherlands (the)
His Excellency Mr. Timothy S. Harris, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis
His Excellency Mr. Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg
His Excellency Mr. Habib Essid, Prime Minister of Tunisia
His Excellency Mr. Karim Massimov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan
His Excellency Mr. Peter Paire O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
His Excellency Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
His Excellency Mr. Zoran Milanović, Prime Minister of Croatia
His Excellency Mr. Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium
His Excellency Mr. José Maria Neves, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde
His Excellency Mr. Gaston A. Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
Her Excellency Ms. Ana-Helena Chacon-Echeverria, Vice-President of Costa Rica
His Excellency Mr. Juan A. Fuentes Soria, Vice-President of Guatemala
His Excellency Mr. Amado Boudou, Vice-President of Argentina
His Excellency Mr. Khalid Mahfuz Bahah, Vice-President of Yemen
His Excellency Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus
His Excellency Mr. Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)


. . . and over in Plenary session 2 we now have Ikililou Dhoinine, president of the Comoros speaking . . . to be followed by:

His Excellency Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea
His Excellency Mr. Joseph Kabila Kabange, President of Democratic Republic of the Congo (the)
His Excellency Mr. Michel Kafando, President of Burkina Faso
His Excellency Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
His Excellency Mr. Malcom Bligh Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia
Her Excellency Ms. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway
His Excellency Mr. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark
His Excellency Mr. Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy
His Excellency Mr. Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados
His Excellency Mr. Henry Puna, Prime Minister of Cook Islands (the)
His Excellency Mr. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa
His Excellency Mr. Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece
His Excellency Mr. Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia
His Excellency Mr. Miro Cerar, Prime Minister of Slovenia
His Excellency Mr. Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia
His Excellency Mr. Abdelmalek Sellal, Prime Minister of Algeria
His Excellency Mr. Antoni Martí Petit, Head of Government of Andorra
His Excellency Mr. Sigmundur Davíd Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland
His Excellency Mr. Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of Czech Republic (the)
His Excellency Mr. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta
His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of the State of Holy See (the)
His Excellency Mr. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of Netherlands (the)
His Excellency Mr. Timothy S. Harris, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis
His Excellency Mr. Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg
His Excellency Mr. Habib Essid, Prime Minister of Tunisia
His Excellency Mr. Karim Massimov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan
His Excellency Mr. Peter Paire O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
His Excellency Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
His Excellency Mr. Zoran Milanović, Prime Minister of Croatia
His Excellency Mr. Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium
His Excellency Mr. José Maria Neves, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde
His Excellency Mr. Gaston A. Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
Her Excellency Ms. Ana-Helena Chacon-Echeverria, Vice-President of Costa Rica
His Excellency Mr. Juan A. Fuentes Soria, Vice-President of Guatemala
His Excellency Mr. Amado Boudou, Vice-President of Argentina
His Excellency Mr. Khalid Mahfuz Bahah, Vice-President of Yemen
His Excellency Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus
His Excellency Mr. Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)


The FT’s Michael Stothard has found inspiration on the sidelines, while the speeches continue:

https://twitter.com/MStothard/status/671358886625062913


The FT’s Anne-Sylvaine Chassany has a bit more from Enele Sosene Sopoaga, prime minister of Tuvalu, one of the Pacific island states under threat from rising sea levels. “Just imagine you are in my shoes, what would you do? I believe no leaders here carry such a level of worry and responsibility,” he said. “No other leader can say that its territory will disappear if temperature rise.”

He calls on delegates to commit to something that is not on the table at these talks:
“The Paris accord must be a legally binding treaty. Anything less would signal to the world that we are not serious about climate change.”‘


And Anne-Sylvaine Chassany has more words from Peter Christian, president of Micronesia, who did not disguise his contempt for the failure of many of the world’s larger countries to take the threat of global warming seriously.

He said: “You’ve heard this before. People of oceanic culture need no convincing, We know there is danger in the air. I heard a great leader say the economy had grown and carbon emissions stayed flat. What I would give for that flatness to dip a little bit during my lifetime. This world is in trouble.”


Elsewhere in the convention centre at Le Bourget, just outside Paris, François Hollande, the French president has been launching an environmental initiative, Anne-Sylvaine Chassany reports.

In a separate press conference, Francois Hollande presented a solar-power alliance jointly launched with India, designed to help developing nations tap the sun’s energy. Canada, Chile, Ethiopia, Germany and Mexico have joined the initiative. US president Barack Obama was meant to attend the launch too but had to cancel.

“Our ambition is to ensure technology transfers as well as provide funds to ensure transitions to green energies,” Mr Hollande said. “Countries with the largest solar resources only represent a small share in the solar power production.”


There is big numbers attached to this solar power initiative, says the FT’s Michael Stothard:

India and France have launched a global alliance to mobilise $1000bn worth of investment towards developing solar power around the world, focusing on tropical countries that are sun-rich but cash-poor.

The proposed alliance, which was announced on Monday, is aiming to have over 100 countries join, including US, China and France as well as those situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.


The White House have just released the so-called readout from Obama’s meeting with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Not sure it moves things on but here’s an extract:

The leaders agreed that the Paris agreement must drive serious and ambitious action by all nations to curb carbon pollution, while at the same time protecting the ability of countries such as India to pursue their priorities of development, growth, and poverty eradication.


We have discovered a couple of experts at the FT on Tuvalu and one of its near neighbours. John Aglionby, the FT’s East Africa correspondent points out that in the early internet days many media companies registered their internet domain names there because it allowed them to use the country’s suffix .tv, which It was the country’s biggest source of foreign exchange for several years.

But more than that we have a (former) resident expert of neighbouring Tarawa, which along with Tuvalu used to make up the British protectorate of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. FT contributor Quentin Peel lived on Tarawa until the age of 3. He reports its highest point above sea level is a mere two metres and is part of Kiribati which is made up of 33 atolls and one coral island and is what used to be the Gilbert islands. Tuvalu is what were the Ellice islands, which are six atolls and three reefs, highest point about five metres. Together the two island nations cover about 2m square miles of ocean. He isn’t planning to return any time soon but recalls that when he did live there it took seven weeks to get there from London, via Melbourne, followed by a phosphate ship to Ocean island, and then another boat to Tarawa. He’s pretty certain you can get a plane via Fiji these days, which is less time-consuming.


Greenpeace has issued a mixed statement towards the end of the opening day of the Paris summit, reports Anne-Sylvaine Chassany.

“There was good and bad to be heard from the podium, but on balance there is a sense of great potential here in Paris,” said Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace’s head of international climate politics. He welcomed Hollande’s description of fossil fuels as “energies of yesterday”, Obama’s commitment to dedicate ”huge sums of money for new renewable energy research” and Modi’s “groundbreaking global solar alliance.”‘

But he regretted that too few leaders announced new carbon emissions cuts.


We are going to wrap up our coverage of the opening day of the Paris climate change summit, COP21.

It’s been a day where many of the world leaders have said a lot and promised little. There have been a few awkward moments on the sidelines, with the Kremlin rejecting any suggestion that it would use Paris to defuse tension with Turkey. Equally the body language between Putin and Obama was striking. The most telling contributions came from those countries facing what they consider to be an immediate existential threat with some strong words from the island nations of the Pacific in particular.

Thanks for being with us, for further coverage of the climate talks please visit this page.