UN climate summit to host 125 heads of state

The heads of state of 125 nations are planning to attend the United Nations’ (UN) summit on climate change later this month, the organization said.

Many other countries are sending lower-ranking officials, such as foreign affairs ministers or environmental ministers, according to a UN document published this weekend.

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Countries pushing for an international agreement to limit climate change see the Sept. 23 summit, organized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as a precursor to a meeting next year in Paris, at which UN leaders hope to carve out a deal.

Environmentalists and others backing an international pact have watched closely as countries decide who to send, and they consider representatives’ ranking as a sign of how serious the nation takes the negotiations.

Among the heads of state in attendance will be President Barack Obama, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, South African President Jacob Zuma and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.

Australia, Canada, China and India are among the major world powers who are not sending their heads of state, as many have previously announced. China is the No. 1 emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, with India third.

Xinhua, China’s state news agency, said Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli will represent it at the summit.

“The Chinese side will participate in the summit and related activities in a constructive manner,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying told Xinhua.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to the United States shortly after the summit to meet with Obama, and India has said the leaders expect to speak about climate change.