More than 150 world leaders pose for 'Paris 2015 family photo' at the beginning of the COP21 climate conference in Le Bourget, Paris, 30 November 2015. Photo: Martin Bureau / AFP / Getty Images

30 November 2015 (Desdemona Despair) – Nearly 150 leaders of 195 countries met today in Paris for the COP21 U.N. climate change conference. It’s the largest climate conference in history and the largest conference ever held in France. Yesterday, more than 700,000 people marched in climate change protests in 175 countries. Longtime Desdemona readers will agree with French president Francois Hollande: “never have the stakes been so high”.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the conference, "A political moment like this may not come again. We have never faced such a test. But neither have we encountered such great opportunity."

The conference started with a moment of silence for victims of the 13 November 2015 attacks in Paris. U.S. President Barack Obama observed: "What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?”

Here are today’s quotes from other world leaders, lifted from the Guardian’s liveblog.

“The prosperous still have a strong carbon footprint and the world’s billions, while countries at the bottom of the development ladder are seeking space to grow. So the choices are not easy …

“Democratic India must grow rapidly to meet the aspirations of 1.25 billion people – 300 million of whom are without access to energy. We are determined to do so, guided by an ancient belief that people and planet are inseparable, that human well being and nature are indivisible. – India prime minister Narendra Modi

“The Bahamas and other small developing island states are seeing unprecedented drought, extreme weather events, accelerating sea level rise and other life threatening impacts and the science tells us we can only expect more intense impacts over time.” – Bahamas prime minister Perry G. Christie

“From Australia we come with confidence and optimism. We are not daunted by our challenge … we do not doubt the implications of the science.

“Our task is not just to reduce emissions, the impacts of global warming are already being felt … Adapting to the impacts of climate change is equally important and there too innovation is key. Some of the most vulnerable nations are our neighbours and we are helping them to build resilience. Our agreement in Paris must provide a common platform for action. Australia is not daunted by the challenge. With great optimism and faith in humanity’s genius for invention we are confident that with collective leadership we will with common cause secure our future.” – Australia prime minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull

President Hollande welcomes Iran’s vice-president Masoumeh Ebtekar to the COP21 opening day sesssion. Photo: Christian Hartmann / Reuters

“I wish to urge the UN system to initiate an assessment on the carbon footprints of war, conflicts, security and terrorism. Those perpetuating conflicts are in fact accomplices of the global warming process.

“We did not create the heavens and earth but in truth he raised the heaven and established the balance so that you would not transgress the balance. Give just weight – do not skimp in the balance. He laid out the Earth for all living creatures.” – Iran vice president Masoumeh Ebtekar

We must accept the reality that climate change is progressing more quickly than international climate change negotiations. We must therefore act differently. Time is running out. The entire world is placing its hope in us. This is the only chance we have to save our planet so let us seize the opportunity before it is too late. – Comoros president Ikililou Dhoinine

“Indonesia has suffered this year from the impact of forest fires that started in July and have engulfed much of the country in toxic air pollution. The CO2 emitted by the fires alone have exceeded the annual emissions of countries such as Japan and Germany. 

“As a country with one of the largest forest areas acting as the lungs of the world, Indonesia is here today as part of the solution. We are developing Indonesia in a way giving due attention to the environment.” – Indonesia president Joko Widodo

“Today we heard a great leader said we have come to challenge ourselves. But this challenge is to save ourselves, not someone else. I also heard another great leader say the economy had grown but the carbon emissions had stayed flat. What I would give for that flatness to dip a little bit during my lifetime. Someone else said that by 2030 … ladies and gentlemen there are island states that may not be there by 2030.” – Micronesia president Peter M. Christian

Christopher J Loeak, president of the Marshall Islands, at the Paris climate talks, 30 November 2015. Photograph: UNFCCC

“The climate we have known over many centuries has in a matter of three short decades, changed dramatically, before our very eyes.

“We are already limping from climate disaster to climate disaster and we know that there is worse to come.

“For us, COP21 must be a turning point in history. And one that gives us hope.

“Our Paris agreement must set a path to the safe climate future we all strive for. We all know that the targets on the table now are not enough to limit warming to below 1.5C. Although they are a start in the right direction.

“Therefore if it is to deliver the end we all seek, the Paris agreement must be designed for ambition. It must send a message to the world that if we are to win the battle against climate change, the fossil fuel era must end.” – Marshall Islands president Christopher J. Loeak

“The fight against climate change is a matter of survival … We are indeed hard pressed to build back better in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.” – Philippines  president Benigno S. Aquino III

“The Paris agreement must be legally binding and results orientated; a fair multilateral and rules based regime.” – Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari

“The leaders of all nations of the world are here to talk about one thing: to protect our common good, the planet Earth.

“The effects of climate change in many countries are already quite tangible, including in Niger, where we have periods of drought, followed by floods, leading to serious losses and seriously trying the resilience of people. The countries of the Sahel expect from the north a strong signal of their commitments.” – Niger president Issoufou Mahamadou

“World leaders arriving in Paris today must grasp the opportunity to secure, for the first time, a truly international climate agreement. While it is clear that the deal being negotiated will not yet be sufficient to prevent dangerous levels of temperature rise, the summit should establish a clear pathway to build a carbon neutral economy within a generation. Ultimately this will be the key test of whether the Paris summit succeeds.” – UK shadow climate change secretary Lisa Nandy

The Prince Of Wales gives a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of COP21 in Paris, 30 November 2015. Photo: Carl Court / Getty Images

“Ladies and Gentlemen, as the Executive Secretary has just said, rarely in human history have so many people around the world placed their trust in so few. Your deliberations over the next two weeks will decide the fate not only of those alive today, but also of generations yet unborn.

“So I can only urge you to think of your grandchildren, as I think of mine, and of those billions of people without a voice; those for whom hope is the rarest of sensations; those for whom a secure life is a distant prospect.

“Most of all, I urge you to consider the needs of the youngest generation, because none of us has the right to assume that “for our today they should give up their tomorrow.” – Charles, Prince of Wales

“As we stand in unity with France against the violence that took place here, we must also stand untied against perhaps the greatest threat against humanity: climate change, that poses a danger to all of us but especially to hose of us on the frontline of climate change, the low-lying atoll countries.

“I believe that that should be the moral question … it is my belief that for any measure of success to be achieved here in Paris we must approach the discussions over the next few days as global leaders, let us not bring our national political agendas on to an issue that is global in nature. The future of people, men, women and children, whole cultures, whole communities, villages, cities and nations, hangs in the balance. We must not remain indecisive on the way forward.

“For those of us whose very survival is at stake, our plea is very simple: let us give substance to the pledges that have been made … let us not pay lip service to an urgent and pressing issue.” – Kiribati president Anote Tong

“The environmental challenges facing us are enormous. Desertification and coastal erosion are two of the biggest threats to my country.

“The challenge of climate change requires that we limit by the year 2100 the increase in temperatures to 2C, so we need to reach an agreement, we need a legally-binding instrument … to reach this goal, requires a sprit of solidarity and sacrifice.” – Mauritania president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

“The international community is on the verge of a new era in combating climate change … We all need to do our part to successfully conclude negotiations in the next two weeks … The issue that needs to be clarified first and foremost is differentiation. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities as set out in the convention should be maintained. … Responsibility should be assumed by developed countries.” – Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

“Small island communities pay in the droughts that destroy livelihoods and record cyclones. We see a small toll exacted every day as our shorelines are slowly eroded … small island communities are among the first to pay the price of climate change. But no one will escape forever … We have a choice: we can pay in human misery or pay investing in a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future.” – Nauru president Baron Waqa

“Let us understand in COP21 we are deciding what quality of life we want for the 21st century.” – Mexico president Enrique Peña Nieto

Russia President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, 30 November 2015. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

“Climate change has become one of the gravest challenges that humanity is facing. … We have gone beyond our commitments under the Kyoto protocol. From 1991 to 2012, Russia significantly reduced its emissions … [equivalent to] 40bn tonnes of CO2e into the atmosphere [a little higher than current annual global higher emissions] … at the same time we have doubled GDP. We hope that through concerted efforts we will be able to create a new global agreement that will replace the Kyoto protocol.” – Russia president Vladimir Putin

“Through our presence here today we show we are stronger than the terrorists. … This is a question of environmental necessity, but also of economic common sense … Our very future as humankind hinges on this … Billions of people are pinning their hopes on what we achieve here in Paris.” – Germany president Angela Merkel

U.S. president Barack Obama shakes hand with Christiana Figueres, as Ban Ki-moon, and the French delegation including President Hollande, right, looks on, as delegates arrive for the COP21 talks in Le Bourget, Paris, 30 November 2015. Photo: Christophe Ena / AFP / Getty Images

“This summer, I saw the effects of climate change first hand in Alaska, where the sea is already swallowing villages and eroding shorelines … where glaciers are melting a a pace unprecedented in modern times.

“It was a preview of one possible future: our children’s fate …

“That future is not one of strong economies, nor of one where fragile states can find their footing. That future is one we have the power to change. Right here. Right now.

“But only if we rise to this moment. As one of America’s governors has said, we are one of the first generations to feel the impact of climate change and one of the last to do something about it. …

“Let there be no doubt. The next generation is watching what we do.” – U.S. president Barack Obama


“Never has a conference welcomed so many dignitaries from so many countries. But never have the stakes of an international meeting, and I say never, been so higher. What is at stake is the future of the planet, of life.

“And yet two weeks ago here in Paris it was death that a group of fanatics brought to the streets. Here I want to express to you the gratitude of the French people for all the shows of support, of friendship we have received since 13 November.

“Tragic events represent an affliction but also an obligation. They force us to focus on what is important. Your presence has generated immense hope which we do not have the right to disappoint.

“I’m not choosing between the fight against terrorism and the fight against global warming. These are two major challenges we must overcome. We must leave our children more than a world free of terror, we owe them a planet protected from disasters, a viable livable planet.” – France president Francois Hollande

World leaders call for action at Paris climate talks – live


  1. Anonymous said...

    “We are already limping from climate disaster to climate disaster and we know that there is worse to come." What are some examples?


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