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30 Nov, 2015 10:06

Paris on high alert as 150 world leaders arrive for UN climate change summit

Security in Paris is tight, with 120,000 police and army personnel patrolling the city as 150 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin arrive for a global climate change summit.

Paris is hosting the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) two weeks after Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people on November 13 in the French capital.

"Terror attacks here three weeks ago overshadowed this entire event, with all public protest banned on safety fears, and an unprecedented 120,000 soldiers and cops patrolling the streets," RT's correspondent Daniel Bushell reported from Paris.

Apart from urgent measures on climate change, efforts to fight terrorism are also expected to be discussed by world leaders during one-on-one meetings in the French capital.

US president Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin will most probably pull up chairs on the sidelines of the global climate change summit, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday.

The Russian president will not meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Paris, Peskov confirmed however.

"There will be no meeting with Erdogan [in Paris]," he said. There are no contacts with the Turkish leader planned for the near future either. Last Monday a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber in a rebel-held area in Syria, not far from the Turkish border. The 45-year-old pilot, Lieutenant-Colonel Oleg Peshkov, was shot dead by Turkmen militia while parachuting to the ground.

READ MORE: Turkey stopped violating Greek airspace after Russian Su-24 downing - Athens source

On the eve of a global climate summit in Paris, activists across the globe marched in support of new environmental initiatives, calling for meaningful discussions and decisive actions from world leaders at the “last chance” conference.  More than 2,000 such events were held across the world, including London and Sao Paulo.

Over 5,000 people flocked to City Hall in New York to take part in an environmental gathering.

READ MORE: ‘Last chance’: Climate activists across US call for decisive actions at Paris summit

In Paris, where demonstrations were banned by the authorities after the November 13 attacks, activists laid out some 20,000 shoes in the Place de la Republique to symbolize absent marchers on the eve of the climate change summit.

Riot police used tear gas to disperse about 200 protesters, some of them masked, who responded by hurling rocks and even candles.

The biggest challenge for the participants of the UN conference in Le Bourget will be reaching the first universal climate pact, agreed by and applicable to all countries.

Since 1992, the so-called Conference of the Parties has taken place every year, with top brass negotiators trying to come up with effective action plans to tackle climate change.

The problem is how to get as many as 195 countries to agree over practical ways to  deal with climate change, taking into account the needs and capabilities of each nation.

In 2011, negotiators agreed that a deal had to be struck by the end of the 2015 deadline.

Climate change refers to the increase in the average temperature of the oceans and the Earth’s atmosphere. It's attributed to human activities, which directly or indirectly alter the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere beyond the natural variability of the climate observed over comparable periods.

The primary objective is to limit average global warming to no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, by curbing fossil fuel emissions.

According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), global warming of more than 2°C would have serious consequences. To reach this target, climate experts estimate that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be reduced 40-70 percent by 2050, and that carbon neutrality (zero emissions) needs to be reached by the end of the century at the latest. In Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancún in 2010, developed countries committed to jointly raising $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with ongoing climate change.

Adopted in 1997 and in force since 2005, the Kyoto Protocol set binding greenhouse gas emissions targets for developed countries for the period 2008-2012. The protocol, the only legally binding international instrument, was renewed until 2020.

Currently, there are 192 Parties (191 States and 1 regional economic integration organization) to the Kyoto Protocol. The US, one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, signed the protocol, but didn't ratify it.

"Kyoto would have wrecked our economy. I couldn't in good faith have signed Kyoto," ex-US President George W. Bush told Danish TV in 2005, AP reported.