Hollande takes stars to Manila for climate talks

French president François Hollande arrived in the Philippines on Thursday, accompanied by two of France's leading actresses - Marion Cotillard and Melanie Laurent, to promote the fight against climate change ahead of a crucial summit of world leaders.

Hollande takes stars to Manila for climate talks
Hollande arrives in the Philippines accompanied by actress Marion Cotillard (left) and Melanie Laurent (right). Photo: AFP

The two-day trip, the first by a French president to the Philippines, is part of Hollande's campaign to build diplomatic momentum ahead of the United Nations event that France will host in December.

Hollande says he is determined to "leave a mark" on history by brokering an historic agreement to contain climate change that would make up for the failure to reach such an accord in Copenhagen in 2009.

The Philippines is seen as a frontline state in the battle against climate change, having been battered by relentless storms in recent years that have emerged from the Pacific Ocean and claimed many thousands of lives.

These included Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever recorded on land, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing in November 2013 and which scientists have linked to climate change.

(French actress Melanie Laurent. Photo: AFP)

Hollande will meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Thursday evening, when they are expected to jointly call on world leaders to ensure that the Paris climate summit is a success.

The goal of the planned Paris pact, which must enter into force by 2020, is to limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

Scientists warn that on current trends, Earth is on track for double that, or more — a recipe for catastrophic droughts, fiercer storms like Haiyan, and other extreme weather events.

However most followers of the UN climate change diplomatic process are sceptical a pact can be secured that will be ambitious enough to achieve the two-degree goal, with rich and poor nations continuing to fight over who should shoulder more of the burden.

Hollywood glamour

In an effort to raise awareness about the climate change fight while in the Philippines, Hollande brought with him Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, who has been a long-time campaigner for environment group Greenpeace.

Melanie Laurent, another French actress who has had big success in Hollywood, is also part of Hollande's delegation, along with UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

His ex-partner Ségolène Royal is also with the official French delegation.

Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is also travelling with Hollande.

In what is shaping up to be the most symbolic and emotional leg of Hollande's trip, he will on Friday visit the small town of Guiuan in eastern Philippines that was devastated when Haiyan hit with winds of up to 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour.

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