France's Royal Sees Risk That Paris Climate Deal Will Fall Short

  • Accord may not be ambitious enough to curb global warming
  • 140 world leaders attending UN-sponsored climate summit

As more than 140 world leaders converge on Paris for the opening of United Nations-sponsored talks on lowering carbon emissions, French Environment Minister Segolene Royal said a deal may fall short of what’s needed to curb global warming.

“There is a risk that the accord won’t meet the challenges,” Royal said in a television interview on Sunday. A deal that is “ambitious, binding and universal” hasn’t yet been reached, she said.

The French minister was speaking against the backdrop of tight security in Paris that led authorities to close major highways and urge residents to stay home, if possible, on Monday. With leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping traveling for the opening of the climate meeting on Monday, a massive police presence was on hand in central parts of the city such as the Champs-Elysees.

“We are on the right track” toward a deal, Royal said in the interview. More than 170 countries have pledged to lower emissions, although only enough to keep the world on a trajectory for a 3-degree Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) increase in global temperatures and not the 2-degree target set in previous climate talks, she said.

France remains under a state of emergency following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that left 130 dead. As part of heightened security following the killings and surrounding the climate talks, the highways leading north and south out of Paris will be shut to normal traffic from Sunday afternoon to late Monday, as will a northern stretch of the “peripherique,” the road that circles the city.

With public demonstrations banned across the country and a march in Paris organized by environmental groups canceled, people left hundreds of pairs of shoes at the central Place de la Republique Sunday as a symbol of their support for a climate deal. Hundreds of people were also gathering to form a human chain.

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