COP21 Opening Day – End of Day Wrap

COP21 Opening Day – End of Day Wrap

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The President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft wrapped up his participation in the first day of the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris today (Monday 30 November) by chairing the end of the opening session of Heads of State and Government.

Some 12 hours earlier in the day Mr. Lykketoft was greeted on arrival at the COP21 site in Le Bourget by French President Francois Hollande and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the start of an historic day which saw around 150 world leaders travel Paris to take part in the start of two weeks of intense climate change talks.

Opening the conference after a minute of silence to honour those killed in recent terror attacks, President Hollande said the world was at “breaking point” in the fight against global warming. “Never have the stakes been so high because this is about the future of the planet, the future of life. And yet two weeks ago, here in Paris itself, a group of fanatics was sowing the seeds of death in the streets.”

Mr. Lykketoft joined world leaders for a group photograph and the opening sessions at which, one by one, leaders including US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, urged each other to find common cause in the coming days to steer the global economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels.

Later during the morning, the President met briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and leaders from Bahrain, Latvia, Bulgaria, Iran, Sweden and Palestine. At the high-level lunch he sat with the leaders of Samoa, Palau and Papua New Guinea to discuss the situation facing the leaders of small island states.

Before chairing the closing session of the plenary session which included speech by leaders from Ireland, Vietnam, Macedonia, Israel, Poland, Central African Republic, Thailand, Mozambique, Austria, Cuba, Angola, Iran, Burundi and Vanuatu, Mr. Lykketoft greeted South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He also met with leading civil society climate activists and encouraged them to follow on from COP 21 to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to bring their energy and voices to the UN General Assembly High Level Thematic Debate on SDG Implementation and Climate Action from 11-12 April 2016.

Attending that meeting were Ricken Patel, Founding President and Executive Director of Avaaz; Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International and Senior Political Adviser Patricia Lerner; Antonio Hill, Executive Director of Global Call for Climate Action; May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org; Ria Voorhaar, Communications Director for Climate Action Network.

The civil society leaders said that despite the cancellation of the planned climate march in Paris on Sunday (29 November), more than 780,000 people had marched for climate action in other major cities. Uniting the marchers was the call for governments to sign a universal climate change agreement and also a shared vision of a transition towards a 100 per cent clean energy future.

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