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Paris unites global leaders to focus on climate change

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From 30 November to 11 December, 25,000 delegates from over 190 countries, including Australia, will come together for the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, France to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

In the wake of the recent terrorist activity, the event may also act as an opportunity for world leaders to unite under a common goal, paving the way for sustainability.

On the margins of this historic conference, the delegates and a further 25,000 people will participate in side events to explore tangible solutions for achieving a low carbon economy, from grass roots education to business strategy.

One of these side events will be taking participants out of Paris to explore local solutions. On 3 December, a specially chartered train will take 500 official delegations, local authorities, journalists, businesses and NGOs from Paris to a small town called Loos-en-Gohelle in Northern France. It is an unlikely place for this kind of event; a poor, ex-mining town, home to the highest slag heaps in Europe. But scratch the surface, and you will see an amazing example of transition to a low carbon economy.

In the morning participants will arrive at the former mine site "Base 11/19" – a collection of UNESCO listed buildings showcasing reconversion to sustainable activities. A series of guided visits will show participants how Loos-en-Gohelle has mobilized stakeholders across Northern France to develop projects around solar energy, ecoconstruction and the circular economy.

In the afternoon, economists, sociologists and business leaders will discuss how the Northern France region has put the "Third Industrial Revolution" at the heart of its development strategy. The Third Industrial Revolution, discussed primarily by American economist and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin, foresees the merger of communications technologies and renewable energy sources for a sustainable future. In this vision, a switch to clean energy production creates businesses and jobs, but also leads to a fundamental reordering of human relationships from hierarchical to lateral power, changing how we conduct business, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life.

It is understood that Jeremy Rifkin will be joined by the French President Francois Hollande to close the event.

COP21 participants can sign up for the "TRI-GV: the Train for Change" side event here TRI-GV: the Train for Change.

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