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Scientists warn of climate disaster as ministers prepare Cop21 Paris summit

An apple marked with the Cop21 logo at a garden in Metz, eastern France
An apple marked with the Cop21 logo at a garden in Metz, eastern France Reuters

Parts of New York, Shanghai and other cities could be submerged under water and millions driven into poverty, scientists warned on Monday as ministers and climate envoys from some 60 countries met to prepare December's Cop21 climate change summit in Paris.

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The three-day meeting was a "rehearsal before the Paris conference", Fabius said, warning that the future of the planet is at stake.

It was to seek convergence on a 55-page rough draft in the hope of avoiding a repeat of 2009's Copenhagen summit to reach agreement.

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The draft sets out often differing views on key questions, and the ministers have no power to alter the text, simply being able to identify possible political compromises to be made at the 30 November-11 December Paris summit.

Developing countries want rich nations to lead the way in slashing emissions, arguing that historically they have been polluting for longer.

They also want pledges of finance to shift to green energy sources and fight the effects, such as superstorms, drought, flood and rising sea levels, of climate change.

But industrialised countries point out that emerging giants China and India are now leading polluters.

Several reports, published as the meeting began, added new warnings of the effect if global warming continues at the current rate:

  • Rising sea levels will swamp land inhabited by more than 600 million people, including major cities, US-based research group Climate Change warned;
  • More than 100 million more people could be living in povertyby 2030, a World Bank study said;
  • Concentrations of CO2 are set to pass the historic milestone of 400 parts per million next year and are now 143 per cent higher than in 1750, which will mean heatwaves, floods, melting ice-caps, rising sea levels and increased acidity in the sea, the World Meterological Organisation declared.

Last month scientists said that the first nine months of 2015 had been the hottest on record.

France is "totally mobilised" on the question, former environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo told business paper Les Echos on Monday, with greenhouse gas emissions 50 per cent than those of Germany and three times lower than the US's.

Borloo, a member of the previous right-wing government, welcomed the role played by President François Hollande, the government, local authorities and companies.

The world's number one luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH, announced that it was starting a carbon fund that aims to collect five million euros next year to invest in technology that reduces energy consumption and renewables production.

Al its 79 brands, which include Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Céline, Givenchy and Guerlain, will pay 15 euros per tonne of greenhouse gas they emit.

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