France Shuts Down Environmental Protests Planned For UN Summit

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

France will cancel environmental protests and beef up security for the Paris climate summit in the wake of deadly terror attacks in Paris Friday.

Islamic State militants launched a series of attacks Friday in Paris which killed 129 and injured hundreds of others. The violent terror attack cast doubt on the climate summit’s safety. Despite the danger, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said that the negotiations will go on as planned, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

“It will go ahead with reinforced security measures,” said Fabius, speaking in Vienna Saturday. “This is an absolutely necessary step in the battle against climate change and of course it will take place.”

The Paris attacks will blunt the influence of protesters who want to use the summit as a rallying point for environmentalists. Officials want to minimize unnecessarily large crowds, cancelling a march scheduled for the eve of the summit which was expected to draw 200,000 people, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Environmentalists have agreed to respect the ban on large demonstrations. Additional protests and scheduled side events have also been cancelled due to security concerns.

President Barack Obama has said he will still be in attendance, with other world leaders echoing the sentiment that the tragic events have made success at the December summit all the more important.

“We not only planned to come, but now we have to come, because we have to show to the terrorists that we are not afraid of them,” said Fabius, quoting a conversation with an unnamed foreign official.

Conflict on policy and the best way to move forward in Paris are still major hurdles that must be cleared for the summit to yield a successful agreement. There has already been confusion over the binding legal nature of the agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry claimed last week that it will not be a treaty, but Fabius subsequently contradicted him and called Kerry “confused,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

“At certain times I was feeling that we’re not living on the same planet,” said one EU official, underscoring the intense policy disagreements among participating nations. “Just simply to state that climate change is a common problem that needs collective action led to hours of discussion.”

The COP21 summit kicks off Nov. 30, bringing together 196 heads of state and government officials for two weeks of negotiations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged the policy divide among many participating countries, but remained optimistic about a fruitful outcome.

“It is clear that a whole host of talks will still be necessary to make sure that we can make progress in Paris,” said Merkel Monday. “This has to be a success.”

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