Paris (AFP) – Security fears in the wake of Friday’s brutal slaying of 129 people in Paris threaten to overshadow a crunch climate summit to be launched by 120 world leaders in the French capital on November 30.
But Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday that “without a doubt” concerts and other gatherings of a “festive” nature would be cancelled.
The UN climate conference, for which about 40,000 delegates, journalists, observers, NGOs and other participants are accredited, will be “limited to negotiation”, said Valls — excluding certain planned side-events.
US President Barack Obama has said he still intends to attend the summit, and Valls said none of the 120-odd heads of state or government who accepted invitations to the opening had asked for a postponement.
“All want to be there. To do otherwise would, I believe, be to yield to terrorism,” said Valls, who on Sunday called the gathering “an essential meeting for humanity.”
Coalition Climate 21, the civil society grouping organising the marches, met in Paris Monday to decide how to proceed.
“The tragedy in Paris has only strengthened our resolve,” it said in a statement on Monday evening.
“This movement for climate justice has always also been a movement for peace — a way for people around the world to come together, no matter their background or religion, and fight to protect our common home.”
But no final decision has been taken, and the coalition said it would meet French authorities in the coming days to discuss “how we can move forward with the (November 29) march.”
“We fully share their (the authorities’) concerns about public safety — just as we fully oppose any unnecessary crackdowns on civil liberties,” said the statement.
Valls said the safety of demonstrators was paramount, and security forces would have to “concentrate on the essential” — the conference itself.
This threatened a series of exhibitions, concerts and other gatherings organised around the city to beat the drum for urgent climate action.
In the midst of a national state of emergency and massive anti-terror deployment, it might be hard to free up the 5,000-odd police and military police required to secure the November 29 rally, a security source told AFP.