UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses Leaders Session at COP21.

President Barack Obama addresses Leaders Session at COP21.

President Xi Jinping addresses Leaders Session at COP21.

President Francois Hollande addresses Leaders Session at COP21.

World Leaders Open COP21 with Calls for Solidarity and Ambition

Opening session follows holding of climate marches in cities around the world

Today world leaders gathered at the official opening session of COP21 at the Le Bourget Paris site.

The Leaders Session marks the opening of two weeks of negotiations aiming to finalize the first universal, legally binding climate agreement in more than 20 years of talks. In the run up to the summit, over 180 countries have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

President of France Francois Hollande called for solidarity between states and respect for responsibilities. The agreement, he added, must be universal and binding, showing solidarity between nations. He highlighted the need for all stakeholders to be involved in the process.

New COP President Laurent Fabius (Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, France) pointed out that an agreement must include processes and mechanisms for improving on the 184 submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pointed out that any agreement reached in Paris must be flexible and responsive to the future needs of different countries. It must also, he said, show solidarity with poor countries and include methods for monitoring and assessing contributions to the fight against climate change.

Addresses were made by a number of world leaders. Barack Obama (President, USA) stated that strong economies could be consistent with a healthy environment. He added that nations must reject cynicism. Xi Jinping (President, China) praised the summit as a starting point and indicated that China is working on renewable energy, energy efficiency and a nationwide carbon market. Angela Merkel (Chancellor, Germany) highlighted the situation of small island states and pledged to double Germany’s public funding for action on climate change.

The opening of COP21 follows a day of Climate Action on Sunday, when hundreds of thousands of marchers in cities around the world to demand an ambitious and inclusive agreement in Paris. 

Local and subnational governments will be strongly represented at COP21 in the Cities & Regions Pavilion – TAP2015 in the Climate Generations Areas (Green Zone). Starting tomorrow (1 December), the Pavilion will host a two-week program of presentations and workshops highlighting how cities and regions are raising climate ambitions through local action. If you are in Paris, please drop by.  

ENG | ES | FR | PT | KR | JP | CN