Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah arrived in Paris Sunday night, just in time for the long-awaited summit on climate change.
The conference kicked off in the French capital at 11 am on Monday morning with 150 world leaders in attendance.
U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu, and the leaders of China and India are among those who gathered to tie up two weeks of talks on global warning by lower-level officials.
Nearly 3,000 police and soldiers are also present to protect the event and its participants as well.
French authorities banned protests throughout the capital for security reasons. But thousands gathered in defiance of the ban to create a 2-kilometer human chain – which was then disrupted by anti-capitalists – and which led to clashes with riot police. Some 300 people were arrested in the melee.
“The fate of humanity is at stake in this conference,” French President Francois Hollande declared as he kicked off the summit. “On the 12th of December we must reach an agreement,” he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon followed Hollande, and told participants: “We need a universal, robust and meaningful agreement here in Paris> We are here to choose the path of compromise. All countries must agree to move gradually towards specific, quantified targets.”
“After the attacks in France we have to deal with urgent priorities… but also act for the long term, Hollande told media before the event. Participants in the conference must “assume their responsibilities in the face of global warming,” he warned in an interview with the “20 Minutes” daily.
“History will judge the heads of state and government harshly if, in December 2015, they miss this opportunity.”
Climate change may not seem to have any connection to terrorism; but scientists point out that drought leads to conflicts over water. Rising sea levels can affect the status of an island nation, and the shoreline of coastal cities, as well as harbors and ports. Moreover, tsunamis, earthquakes and other mass-casualty catastrophic events caused by climate change can affect society in other ways – such as the nuclear disaster that occurred at the Fukushima reactors in northern Japan just a few years ago.
Hollande hosted a meeting with Netanyahu Monday morning, in which the Israeli leader expressed his nation’s solidarity with the people of France after the Paris massacre on Nov. 13 that left 130 dead.
Netanyahu was also expected to meet with Russia’s President Putin to discuss the latest events in Syria.
Hana Levi Julian