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POLLUTION

Are top polluters funding Paris climate summit?

France on Wednesday unveiled a list of companies which will sponsor the year-end UN climate talks in Paris, sparking accusations of corporate "greenwashing" from campaigners.

Are top polluters funding Paris climate summit?
The EDF (Electricty of France) powerhouse of Cordemais near Nantes, western France. Photo: AFP
Twenty percent of the €170 million ($185-million) cost of the November 30th to December 11th conference will come from the private sector, a senior foreign ministry official said.
   
Pierre-Henri Guignard, who is responsible for organising the event, identified 20 firms in the first batch of sponsors.
   
They include French energy companies Engie and EDF, BNP Paribas bank, Renault Nissan, Air France, insurance giant Axa, luxury goods maker LVMH as well as Ikea of Sweden and Italian insurance company Generali.
   
The conference “will be financed by French champions of pollution,” Oxfam France complained.
   
It pointed the finger at what it called “greenwashing” by companies involved in coal-fired energy or the financing of it.
   
“The French government had pledged to work with 'climate-compatible' companies, but its hypocrisy is now clear,” the NGO said.
   
The talks — called “COP 21,” for the 21st conference of the parties — will assemble 195 countries and the European Union under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
   
The goal is to seal a global pact on limiting emissions of heat-trapping “greenhouse” gases — the invisible pollution from burning fossil fuels that scientists say is driving dangerous climate change.
   
Corporate sponsorship is a routine feature of the annual COPs. The UNFCCC has consultative guidelines about the nature of sponsors and prominence of logos when used in connection with the event.
   
COP 19 — the 2013 conference in Warsaw — was disrupted by protests over the staging of an “International Coal and Climate Summit” in parallel to the talks.
   
The Paris conference marks the first attempt at forging a global accord on climate change since the ill-fated Copenhagen Summit in 2009. That event cost €150 million, said Guignard.

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CLIMATE

School buses cancelled as southwest France braces for more rain

School bus services have been cancelled a storms hit one département in southwest France - with conditions set to remain difficult throughout the day.

Storms are hitting south west France
Storms are hitting south west France. Image: Shutterstock

Firefighters in the Carcassonne département of Aude – which was formally placed on orange weather alert by forecasters at Météo-France on Tuesday afternoon – have so far reported no significant damage after a night of heavy rainfall. 

But emergency services remain on alert with the autumnal storm system set to deposit more rain over the area on Wednesday before it moves away to the east.

So far, more than 144mm of rain has fallen in the area between Durban and Corbières and 133 mm in Coustouge.

To the east of the Corbières’ region, Météo France has recorded between 130 and 150mm of precipitation, and between 70mm to 100mm at stations in Leucate, Sigean and Carcassonne in just three hours early on Wednesday.

According to France’s floods watchdog Vigicrues, several towns in the east and south of the département – Feuilla, Fraissé-des-Corbières, Saint-Jean-de-Barrou, Sigean, Port-la Nouvelle, Peyriac-de- Mer, Narbonne and Gruissan – are bearing the brunt of the rainfall. 

It currently has seven yellow flood alerts in the Aude, indicating a ‘Risk of flooding generating overflows and localised damage, or a rapid and dangerous rise in water levels, requiring particular vigilance, particularly in the case of exposed and / or seasonal activities.’

The weather conditions have prompted the Aude préfecture to cancel school bus services on Wednesday around Bassin Versant de la Berre, Bassin Versant de l’Orbieu, and Bassin Versant du Verdouble, and urge residents to exercise caution as they go about their daily activities.

The system has generated significant snowfall at higher altitudes in the Pyrénées-Orientales, Haute-Ariège and Andorra. Up to 1m of snow is forecast in areas exposed to the easterly wind.

The rains are expected to intensify between Narbonne and the east of the Montagne Noire on Wednesday, with storms developing as the day progresses. An additional 120mm of precipitation could fall in localised areas during the day before the system moves east towards the Hérault then towards the lower valley of the Rhône and the Paca region on Thursday.

Light to moderate rains will persist in Aude overnight into Thursday.

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