PARIS—A U.N.-sponsored climate change summit opened Monday amid gathering clouds of global conflict that threaten to overshadow the negotiations.
Despite the dire warnings of some climate change scientists and activists concerning what is at stake at the conference, a long list of contemporary security concerns threatens to overshadow the two weeks of negotiations.
At the top of the list are the symbiotic threats of Islamic terrorism and fighters returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. On the eve of the COP21 conference, and less than one hour after arriving in France, Obama paid his respects outside the Bataclan nightclub, where 89 died during the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that killed 130 and wounded hundreds across Paris…
Paris is still very much on edge, and the climate summit sparked additional security concerns. Highlighting the tense environment, protesters clashed with police Sunday at Place de La Republique in central Paris. Police fired tear gas at approximately 200 protesters and 174 went to jail.
France remains under a state of emergency since the Nov. 13 terror attacks and public demonstrations are banned. French President Francois Hollande called Sunday’s protests “scandalous.”
“We will have zero tolerance for violent activists who wish to harm the public order,” Cazeneuve said.
Apart from the terrorism threat, another behind-the-scenes diplomatic drama is playing out at the climate conference and it threatens to steal the spotlight—Russia’s involvement in the wars in Syria and Ukraine.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed a desire to use the COP21 venue to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss how to resolve tensions following Turkey’s Nov. 24 downing of a Russian Su-24 attack aircraft. Turkey claims the Russian warplane repeatedly violated its airspace—a charge the Kremlin denies.