Cameron Europe Agenda Dominates U.K. Diplomacy at Climate Talks

  • Meetings on EU renegotiation, Syria replace talks on emissions
  • Premier `firmly committed' to warming deal, spokeswoman says

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron used United Nations climate talks in Paris on Monday to push his renegotiation of Britain’s membership of the European Union.

While leaders from around the world spent the opening day of the talks focusing on how to reach a global deal to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, Cameron took the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa to set out the next phase of Britain’s bid to redefine its relationship with the bloc.

Cameron also met Jordanian King Abdullah II to discuss Islamic State as he prepares to seek parliamentary support for airstrikes against the extremist group in Syria. He also held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about Afghanistan. His spokeswoman denied that his choice of meetings showed he’s neglecting the environment.

“The prime minister is firmly committed to getting a global deal here in Paris,” Cameron’s spokeswoman, Helen Bower, said at the talks. “He has been engaging with other leaders on this issue for many weeks, particularly at the G-20 where he led calls for an ambitious response, and most recently at the Commonwealth summit at the weekend.”

World Leaders

About 150 world leaders, including Barack Obama of the U.S. and Xi Jinping of China, attended the opening of the negotiations in what the UN billed as the biggest-ever such single-day gathering. More than a year in the making, the UN conference is intended to adopt limits on fossil-fuel emissions that will apply in all nations for the first time. A deal would replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which applied to industrial nations only.

Cameron also held a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels on the eve of the climate talks to thrash out what should happen when EU leaders reconvene for their next summit in December.

With Cameron yet to name a date for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, which he has promised by the end of 2017, next month’s summit has long been identified as the moment when EU leaders would set out which of the U.K.’s demands they could accept.

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