Former UN climate chief criticises Paris summit plans

Yvo de Boer questions the French presidency approach of inviting world leaders to launch the two-week conference

Yvo de Boer (Pic: Flickr/greens_climate)

Yvo de Boer (Pic: Flickr/greens_climate)

By Megan Darby

Former UN climate chief Yvo de Boer has criticised French plans for the involvement of heads of state in this December’s climate summit in Paris.

The host nation is inviting prime ministers and presidents to attend the first day of the two-week conference, at which countries are to sign off global deal.

It is the opposite approach to the Copenhagen 2009 summit, where 115 world leaders arrived for the final leg of talks.

Their presence wasn’t enough to salvage a hoped-for deal to hold global warming to 2C.

But de Boer, who resigned from the UN after Copenhagen, questioned the wisdom of the alternative in an interview with RTCC.

“If the high-level segment is at the beginning of the COP [conference of parties], what purpose is it supposed to serve?” he asked.

“My experience is, politicians travel in order to celebrate success. To fly to Paris and just show a bit of leg at the beginning of a conference is not really enough of a reason.”

It also risks detracting from discussions on the agreement itself, he added.

The idea of getting leaders to launch the conference has been agreed by president Francois Hollande and foreign minister Laurent Fabius, according to a French official.

“The goal is to give a political impulse, and have afterwards the time for negotiators and ministers to negotiate technical elements,” said the official.

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