November 28, 2015 - 4:30 PM
PARIS - The deadly terror attacks that rocked France earlier this month, claiming 130 lives, have had an oddly galvanizing impact on national leaders en route to climate talks that begin here Monday, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau arrived in the French capital Saturday night, one of some 150-plus national leaders descending on the city of lights for the COP21 climate conference.
Before leaving Malta, where Trudeau had taken part in his first Commonwealth leaders' summit this week, the prime minister said he's "very, very optimistic" that a new global agreement on fighting climate change is achievable.
"Leaders are massively expressing they are even more enthused and committed to attending the climate change conference in Paris because of the opportunity it offers to also stand in solidarity with Paris and with the people of France," he said.
Trudeau says Canada will do its part.
A day after pledging $2.65 billion over five years to a UN climate fund, Trudeau will sit down with his India counterpart Narendra Modi on Sunday night to make the case for a comprehensive agreement.
He'll also have lunch at the Elysee Palace with French President Francois Hollande, who made an extraordinary appearance at the Malta Commonwealth meeting to rally support for a global climate deal.
Hollande told the 53 countries represented in Malta that mankind has a moral duty to fight climate change as much as terrorism.
India's Modi took a pass on the Malta summit, although his country the most populous in the Commonwealth. It's also seen as a significant impediment to a global climate pact, given India's refusal to rein in its greenhouse gas emissions.
India, already the world's third largest emitter, has said its emissions could triple over the next 15 years as it expands coal-fired electricity generation to power a developing economy.
Trudeau told reporters he remains optimistic India will come onboard for the next, post-2020 climate pact being negotiated over the next two weeks.
Trudeau pointed to what he called evidence of a "clear political will to move" by the world's largest emitters, the United States and China — and the fact that India is at least engaging with the UN process — as reason to be optimistic.
China and the U.S. signed a bilateral climate accord last November that was noteworthy because China agreed for the first time that its emissions would peak by 2030.
None of that, nor the emission reduction targets countries have pledged in advance of the Paris talks, will keep global temperatures from soaring past the 2 C degree increase scientists say is a critical threshold for many parts of the world.
But Trudeau argues citizens "are going to look very negatively at countries that don't participate," in the latest global effort to find a framework to begin controlling emissions.
"For a concrete example of that we need look not look much further than our own story and the difficulty we had getting pipelines built because people didn't believe we were taking our environmental responsibilities seriously," he said.
Trudeau will be joined in Paris this weekend by the premiers of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan as Canada attempts to portray a united front on the climate file after attracting an unwanted international reputation as a laggard, or worse, an obstructionist.
"Coming from where we were before in terms of being a somewhat reluctant participant in this process, I think our renewed commitment to taking real action will in and of itself be a success for us," Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Saturday before departing for Paris.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is already in France and on Sunday will join other political leaders in a visit to the Bataclan concert hall, where 90 people died Nov. 13, to lay flowers in the memory of the 130 victims of the Paris attacks.
Couillard said he congratulated French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on the city's commitment to hosting the massive conference, saying it was the "best response" to the atrocity.
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2015