Climate change meet: Thousands protest in Amsterdam

By Editor


Around 6,000 to 7,000 people demanded measures to protect the climate in a demonstration held in Amsterdam on Sunday, a day before the opening of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris.

The participants took part in a peaceful march from the Museumplein square through the city centre and back again.

The demonstration was organised by environmental organisations Greenpeace, Milieudefensie and development organisation Oxfam Novib, Xinhua news agency reported.

The demonstrators want people and businesses to use more wind and solar energy and less coal, oil and gas. In addition, they demand more to be done to combat deforestation and to get more money to help people directly affected by the consequences of climate change.

The demonstration on climate change in Amsterdam was one of the many in the world on Sunday.

People also took to the streets in London, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul and Melbourne.

The UN climate change conference will conclude on December 11.

Obama optimistic about result

US President Barack Obama on Sunday said he was “optimistic” about sealing a global climate agreement at the upcoming two-week UN conference in Paris.

“What makes this gathering different is that more than 180 nations have already submitted plans to reduce the harmful emissions that help cause climate change,” Obama said in a Facebook post as he travelled to the talks.

Negotiators in Paris, he said, will try to put in place “a long-term framework for further emissions reductions” that includes “targets set by each nation, but transparent enough to be verified by other nations”, Xinhua news agency reported.

The UN climate talks will officially start in Paris on November 30, tasked with adopting a universal climate deal. More than 180 countries have submitted their action plans before the conference.

However, it is unclear whether these pledges are enough to prevent the temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial level.

Obama said the UN summit will also “work to mobilize support to help the most vulnerable countries expand clean energy and adapt to the effects of climate change we can no longer avoid”.

Obama, who intends to cement his climate legacy, has acted mostly through executive power, including his push for emissions cuts from power plants.

Republicans, who controlled the US Congress, however, denied the reality of climate change and claimed that Obama’s climate policies may produce significant damage to the US economy.

Such intense opposition surely sowed doubts on the world stage about whether the US will honour its climate promises in the future.

Obama, who has just one year in office, rejected such claims.

“In fact, our businesses and workers have shown that it’s possible to make progress towards a low-carbon future while creating new jobs and growing the economy,” he wrote.

“Our economic output is at all-time highs, but our greenhouse gas emissions are down towards 20-year lows.”

Obama will only be attending on November 30 and December 1, the first and second day of the two-week event, during which he will have several bilateral meetings planned, including with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I’m optimistic about what we can achieve — because I’ve already seen America take incredible strides these past seven years,” he said.

With the terror attacks on Paris two weeks ago, the US president said the UN climate summit was an opportunity for the world to “stand as one and show that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children”.

Hollande expects political impulse

The gathering of world leaders in Paris to negotiate ways to combat climate change should provide “a political impulse” to reach a “binding” and “ambitious” deal, French President Francois Hollande said on Sunday.

“If I had to judge the presence and number of contributions, I would say that the target is met. But we have an agreement to seek and conclude,” Hollande said during a joint press meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

About 150 heads of states and governments will participate in the 21st United Nations climate conference, widely considered as the last chance to forge a crucial accord to trim global warming by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, Xinhua news agency reported.

At Copenhagen summit in 2009, negotiations failed to limit greenhouses and the developed nations’ promise to grant $100 billion to world’s poorest countries to cope with climate change remained on paper.

Noting “signals of hope”, the French president stressed the need to “convince all the countries because a consensus must be found during the conference so that there will be an ambitious and binding agreement”.

Earlier on Sunday, Hollande met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “to discuss how to work together to ensure the success of the Paris Conference on climate” and “the conditions that must be met to have an ambitious result”, French presidential office the Elysee said in a statement.

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