GENEVA (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius launched a round of global climate talks in Geneva on Sunday and warned that world security, as well as the environment, depended on their success.
The week-long meeting is the first in a series that is meant to culminate in a globally binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Paris in December, with a target of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.
Countries, companies and other organizations are expected to announce commitments to cut emissions in the run up to the Paris meeting. The cumulative commitments, backed by a financing mechanism and a binding global agreement that is being shaped at the series of meetings, must be enough to hit the 2 degree goal.
“Without sounding too grandiose, the survival of the planet itself is at stake,” Fabius told reporters in Geneva. “You have rising sea levels, acidification of the oceans, immigration sparked by climate change, droughts that are much more severe.
“And then there’s an aspect that we don’t talk about much: the impact on security. If you have climate degradation, global security as a whole is degraded, there is immigration, and the fact that we fight over resources, be it oil or water.”
Fabius said 20,000 delegates and a similar number of guests, plus 3,000 journalists, were expected to attend the Paris talks. He said 195 countries would be represented, but it was not decided which heads of state or government would come.
He described the mood at the Geneva talks as “extremely positive” but said the goal was ambitious and the task would not be easy.
Earlier, Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the current president of the talks, urged nations to avoid a repeat of a summit in 2009 in Copenhagen, when world leaders tried and failed to reach a deal to fight climate change.
“We cannot go back to the past. The world is not willing to accept our failure,” he told the opening session.
He urged all to compromise and said there were “many good signals” from governments, people and businesses of willingness to act. “This is not a competition among us. This is one team for one planet.”
Governments are due to submit their national plans by an informal deadline of March 31 to give time for the United Nations to compile them before Paris. China, the United States and the European Union - the top three emitters of greenhouse gases - have already outlined their plans.
Reporting by Tom Miles, additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo; Editing by Stephen Powell