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Life is at stake: Hollande ramps up pressure

Ben McPartland · 30 Nov 2015, 12:29

Published: 30 Nov 2015 12:29 GMT+01:00

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Hollande sent a clear message to the 150 heads of state gathered for UN climate talks in Paris on Monday, telling them a "universal and binding" agreement must be reached because life itself was at stake. 

The heads of more than 150 nations kicked off 12 days of talks in search of an elusive pact that would indirectly restructure the world economy, weaning it off fossil fuels that stoke global warming.

They met at a conference centre in Le Bourget on the northern outskirts of Paris under heavy security following terror attacks in the city which appeared to have galvanised commitment for a climate breakthrough.

It was the largest single-day gathering of heads of state or government in history, the United Nations said

"Never have the stakes of an international meeting been so high, because it concerns the future of the planet, the future of life, and yet just two weeks ago right here in Paris a group of fanatics sowed death in the streets," said Hollande.

The hope of all of humanity rests on all of your shoulders."

"What is at stake is peace. France has thrown all her strength behind this conference to make sure it succeeds.

“We need to leave our children a sustainable world. The year we have just been through broke all the records: temperature records, concentration of CO2, the number of incidents of extreme weather, droughts, ice melts, rising sea levels,” said Hollande.

(Heads of state are under pressure to reach an agreement. Photo: AFP)

France’s president made it clear that a deal must be reached by December 12th and that it has to be “universal and binding”.

“No state should be able to evade its commitments,” Hollande told the packed rows of delegates. “It must be cover the industrialised countries and both emerging and developing countries.”

Some political analysts have claimed that Hollande’s seemingly slim chances of regaining the presidency in 2017, could depend on whether or not the nations come to an agreement.

At the start of the summit he turned up the pressure on the watching heads of state, including Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping.

“To solve the climate crisis, I tell you frankly, good feelings are not enough. We are close to a breaking point. Paris must be the starting point for a profound transformation. This transformation must be an opportunity for the world,” he said.

“Here in Paris we will decide on the very future of the planet,” he added.

US president Barack Obama also spoke of the need to take responsibility urging world leaders gathered for the UN climate conference in Paris to act now to secure a future for humanity.

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The "future is one that we have the power to change right here right now, but only if we rise to this moment," Obama told 150 leaders at the summit.

"We salute the people of Paris for insisting this crucial conference go on," he added.

"An act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children.

"What greater rejection for those who would tear down our world than marshalling our best efforts to save it."

See his speech below:

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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