Nov 22, 2015
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The Paris Climate Talks by the Numbers

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An estimated 500 people, including world and business leaders, will take part in the COP21 climate talks in Paris next week, which will attempt to move the world forward on issues of climate change, sustainable energy, carbon emissions and green technology.

Lingering in the background will be the question of security in the wake of recent attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead. French authorities plan to deploy about 3,000 extra police officers to beef up security in the area around the conference, in addition to 8,000 officers who will patrol the country’s borders, while it remains in an official state of emergency.

The White House has been trying to get the climate talks on the U.S. public’s radar since September, when President Obama traveled to Alaska in an attempt to draw attention to the effects of climate change. Obama also organized a meeting with CEOs to discuss sustainable business practices and in September instituted sweeping changes to emissions regulations through the Environmental Protection Agency.

Obama wants the U.S. to look like it is doing its part before COP21 begins on Monday. While the talks have been in the works for months, how will they affect U.S. policy and environmental regulations down the road? Here are the facts you need to know about COP21.


COP21, the official name of the Paris climate talks, stands for the 21st Conference of the Parties. The meeting is an annual conference of nations that want to address climate and emissions issues, and is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The first conference was held in in 1995. A year later, assembled countries agreed to accept scientific findings on global warming from an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). At the Copenhagen conference in 2009, countries committed to financing emissions reduction in the short and long term.


The number of days over which the conference will take place, from November 30 to December 11. The U.S., the European Union and environmental groups hope to walk away with a negotiated deal that will require similar conferences every five years, to review progress on emissions reduction.


The number of countries that have put forward plans to reduce emissions. At the conference, heads of state will meet with NGO leaders and environmental groups to discuss green technology and other methods to reach emissions goals.


How many heads of state are planning to attend COP21. U.S. President Barack Obama will join everybody from United Nations General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon and French President Francois Hollande to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, the respective presidents of Russia and China, also will attend. Heads of states will be making speechs, beginning at 11 a.m. on November 30.


Number of attendees expected at the event, including 25,000 world government delegates, according to UNEP.


Number of French police officers and soldiers providing security to the country during the state of emergency, according to the The New York Times.

2 Degrees Celsius 

Scientific consensus holds that this is the threshold of global temperature increase that could lead to catastrophic changes in sea level and weather patterns.

5 Degrees Celsius 

The estimated increase in global temperatures within the next century if current emissions levels hold steady. That’s the same level of difference between the ice age and present day.

2.7 Degrees Celsius 

The estimated temperature increase if the emissions reductions goals of countries attending COP21 are actually met, above the threshold for extreme weather and catastrophic sea level changes, but below the 5 degree doomsday scenario.

1 Degree Celsius 

The difference between global temperatures from pre-industrial years (prior to 1900) and 2015, according to expert analysis compiled by CNBC. This year has already been the world’s hottest year on record (and last month was the hottest October on record).

42 percent 

The percentage of people in 20 high-emissions countries who are seriously concerned about climate change, according to a poll conducted by the BBC .

The number of countries that have majority support for serious climate change action: France, the U.K., Spain and Canada, according to the same poll.

$100 Billion 

The amount of money that the world’s wealthiest countries pledged to spend both privately and publicly for the purposes of accelerating green energy industries and sustainable development infrastructure by 2020 during the last international climate conference in Copenhagen.

$66 Billion 

The approximate amount that has been pledged so far.

December 11 

The U.S. government’s federal budget deadline. Republican lawmakers in Congress are contemplating using the threat of another government shutdown in order to de-fund U.S. efforts for emission reductions led by the executive branch.

The number of Republican presidential candidates who have repeatedly acknowledged that global warming is man-made. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former New York Governor George Pataki stand in a category by themselves.

12 Billion Tons 

The amount of carbon dioxide that will likely be added to the atmosphere by 2030, the year China and India hope to reach the emissions cuts they have targeted. Both countries are large polluters but are concerned about their ability to accept an international deal without giving up sovereignty or impinging on economic development.

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