PARIS, World leaders converged on Paris Sunday in preparation for a two-week summit aimed at a legal agreement to limit carbon emissions across the globe.
More than 40,000 delegates from 195 countries are expected to attend the United Nations conference, known as the COP21, in an effort to achieve a legal agreement to limit carbon emissions and keep the global temperature from rising above 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
The United States, China and India, the top three carbon emitting countries, are scheduled to attend the opening of the event on Monday.
On Sunday, French President Francois Hollande met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. CNN quoted Ban as saying “failure to reach an agreement was not an option and would have disastrous consequences.”
Earlier Sunday, Hollande met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau todiscuss terrorism and the impending summit.
U.S. President Barack Obama left Washington, D.C. on Sunday and was expected to arrive later in Paris, where he will meet with Xi the following morning.
The eve of the summit coincided with worldwide protests attended by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators demanding action against climate change. Police on Sunday arrested more than 200 people in Paris, where a march by environmental groups had been called off following Nov. 13 terrorist attacks across the city.
Riot police clashed with protesters who reportedly threw shoes, bottles and candles left at memorial sites. Demonstrators arranged thousands of pairs of shoes at the Place de la Republique to represent activists who were denied an opportunity to march.
Hollande condemned the demonstrators, whom he characterized as “troubling elements,” saying the clashes had “nothing to do with those who protect the environment.”
In a statement by environmental group 350.org, campaigner Nicholas Haeringer said the protests should be permitted to continue and that activists “will stand against any attempts by the French authorities to use the incidents this afternoon to unnecessarily clamp down on civil liberties and prevent the types of demonstrations that are at the heart of any democracy and climate progress.”
By Fred Lambert