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Macron Responds to Weeks of Violent Protests; Bail Hearing for Huawei CFO to Resume in Coming Hours; E.U. Rules Out Renegotiation But Agrees To Talk. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 11, 2018 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Facing the ultimate test of leadership with a nation on edge, the British prime minister decides the most consequential parliamentary vote in decades could wait longer because it was facing overwhelming defeat.

France's president declares an economic and social state of emergency. Many of the protesters have legitimate concerns offering concessions. But will it end the weeks of violence?

And confronting the most powerful gun lobby in the U.S. How one father whose daughter was killed in the Parkland school shooting is hitting is the NRA where it hurts, squeezing their revenue.

Welcome to you all around the world. Great to have you with us, I am John Vause and you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: Britain's prime minister decided to put the humiliation on hold a day before Parliament was set to vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal. She abruptly announced a delay, an admission that it was facing certain and overwhelming defeat because of one key issue, which was met with laughter and jeers in the Commons.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is clear that while there's broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal --



MAY: -- on one issue, on one issue, the Northern Ireland backstop --


MAY: -- there remains widespread and deep concern. As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be rejected by a significant margin. (CROSSTALK)

MAY: We will, therefore, defer the vote schedule for tomorrow --


MAY: -- and not proceed to divide the house at this time.


VAUSE: Parliament will hold an emergency debate Tuesday on that decision to delay the vote. Ms. May said to lawmakers she will meet with E.U. leaders to try and seek assurances from them to convey to Parliament.

But the European Council president Donald Tusk said neither the Irish backstop as it's known nor the withdrawal agreement itself will be renegotiated. The delay and the lack of a new date for a vote is giving hope to Remainers that maybe Brexit won't happen after all. But as Matthew Chance reports, none of the options available right now will put an end to the political crisis.



MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the Houses of Parliament, people supporting Remain in the European Union are taking an optimistic viewpoint, looking on the bright side of life.

And some of them I've spoken to are quite optimistic because delay in that meaningful vote by Theresa May, the British prime minister, means, they say, that the country is given a chance to come around to their point of view and for a second referendum on whether or not Britain should be a part of the European Union should be held.

But previously there have been raucous scenes here outside and inside the Parliament. When Theresa May was making that address to the House of Commons, she faced a divided group of people.

And, of course, there are divisions all over the country as well, there are some, like these people here, that want Britain to remain in the European Union. Others wants the country to crash out of it without any deal and to operate on WTO rules.

Others want to call a second referendum to decide whether or not they should even be looking at exiting the European Union. Others say there should be a general election, a new government should be selected to wipe the slate clean and to start again.

All of those scenarios end in one outcome, which is, of course, political chaos. We are facing a very difficult and chaotic period in British politics -- Matthew Chance, CNN outside the Houses of Parliament in Central London.


VAUSE: CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas is with us now from Los Angeles.

Dominic, Brexit never a dull moment. You know, out of all of the British retreats in history, this seems to be Theresa May's very own Battle of Cartagena in 1741. Totally underestimating the strength of the opposition, squabbling within the British high command and, once it was over, everyone pretended the humiliation never really happened in the first place.

I mean, no one can pretend that Brexit won't happen. What, 108 days until the deadline and the prime minister's plan is now basically to play for time and pump it down the road.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: I mean it's absolutely extraordinary. And I think that the announcement that the vote was not going to take place today really kind of stunned people.

I mean, we all knew that there was not support for the vote but yet the announcement that it wouldn't take place and I think this was reflected in the lengthy session they held with a hundred plus questions and --


THOMAS: -- statements made to the prime minister and that revealed the complete division within the house and the different kinds of positions and perspectives.

And the idea that yet again she is going to return to the European Union to come up with some kind of plan she believes she can sell back to people in -- sell back to the Parliament seems just so delusional and is really just indicative of this sort of the poor judgment and that she continues to exhibit and the lack of consultation back at home which is where she's facing the real problems here.

VAUSE: I want to read you part of a report in "The New York Times." Analysts had said that the prime minister expected to lose the initial parliamentary vote but hope the margin would not be embarrassingly large. Her plan in that case they said was to win a few concessions from Brussels and return to Parliament for a second vote.

Now, that still seems to be Theresa May's plan right now to try and win a few concessions from the Europeans, but the E.U. president has made it clear the overall terms of the exit agreement will not be renegotiated. There's his tweet there.

So any change if anything that she gets from the E.U. it's likely what we window-dressing, nothing of substance, which seems kind of pointless right now.

THOMAS: Well, yes. And the whole point is that it back in Parliament that she's got all these different factions and constituencies and there's almost nothing that will satisfy a kind of working majority. The one thing that you know, there's consensus for is that Brexit essentially you know, should go ahead.

I mean, there's you know, this is the official position of the Labour Party and it's the dominant position in the Conservative Party. But having said that lots of that comes from just simply speculating where they think the electorate may be and so on. But her returning to the European Union, we have absolutely no idea what it is really she's going to go back to them.

The only thing we keep hearing about is the Irish backstop. But that is just one of many, many, many issues. The fact is between the hardcore Brexiters and the position of say the Labour Party, there is a world of difference between the kinds of Brexits that we're talking about.

And so this is the particular problem and we keep coming back to this idea and respecting the outcome of the vote, respecting the vote of the people, but that in and of itself is so ambiguous and needs to be questioned because there was so little known about Brexit at the time.

You know, as you remember the day after Brexit this was the turn that was the most Googled throughout the internet space, right?

And so people didn't know where it's going and now they're discovering. And one MP today was right I think in pointing out this distinction between the kind of the fantasy of Brexit and the reality and that's at this stage, let alone if it actually goes ahead and the reality starts to face the other 27 countries who start to realize that there are particular implications for their own spaces.

And so this is a political crisis that we're looking at here.

VAUSE: You mentioned Labour, the Labour opposition and you know, true to form never letting a political crisis go to waste. Here's the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: The government is in disarray. Uncertainty is building for business. People are in despair at the state of these failed negotiations and concerned about what it means about their jobs, their livelihood and their communities. And the fault for that lies solely at the door of this shambolic government.


VAUSE: You know, if Corbin was prime minister, wouldn't he be in a fairly similar position as Theresa May right now?

THOMAS: Look, if Jeremy Corbyn's position was to be an unambiguously opposed to Brexit and point out the reasons why it didn't work, that would be one thing. He's not. He supports the Brexit deal here.

He's not in favor of having a second referendum and he's also looking at calculations and districts and former U.K. voters and voters that have returned to the party. The fact is that the Labour Party, unfortunately, is equally divided. They have also been involved in trying to force people to toe the line in purging members from the political party.

This is a political landscape that is divided into so many different factions and there is absolutely no reason to believe that a new leadership in the form of Jeremy Corbyn would extricate us from the mess that we're in. It's hard to imagine where it is that we were to go.

And one of the reasons why Theresa May keep surviving is that leadership alternatives, somebody that could come along and generate some kind of consensus does not seem to be on the table and in the offering right now.

VAUSE: Now it seems to me that three possibilities, three scenarios are now closer to reality. The first one obviously being that Theresa May finally you know, gets challenged for the -- faces a leadership challenge which she loses.

The second on being that a no deal Brexit is now closer to reality. And oddly enough also it seems that maybe could just possibly, you know, a second referendum on Brexit is a possibility as well. I mean, is that how you're saying.

THOMAS: Sure. I mean, those are just three but they're of course so many others. But let's just go back to the idea of the referendum.

What would the wording be on that referendum?

Will the referendum be do we remain or leave or would it be we take Theresa Mays deal or a no deal but in other words, we still end up with Brexit?

Is this perhaps the strategy in the end, to make sure that Brexit --


THOMAS: -- is actually delivered and then later on we go back to looking at that?

But this is something that we seem to find that across Parliament there is little appetite for a no deal. And I believe or I think the most likely thing that will happen in the next week or so is going to have to be some kind of leadership challenge and some kind of move away from Theresa May to perhaps break the dam in the opposition and to get people to be a little bit more realistic.

And that's something that the Europeans may entertain, is an extension to this particular process rather than it just sort of ending up down the road when March arrives and the U.K. has left the European Union.

VAUSE: Which is why a very short tweet from Ian Dunt, a political editor in the U.K. , seems to sum everything up quite nicely.

"Dear Lord above, what an F-ing shambles." There it is. We took out the naughty word.

THOMAS: Dunt, Ian Dunt, good man. Thank you.

VAUSE: Good to see you.


VAUSE: The mood in the British House of Commons was already fairly tense but then a Labour MP grabbed the ceremonial mace and all hell broke loose. Without the mace, Parliament cannot meet or pass laws. The Brexit vote delay is what angered the MP. And here is what happened.




BERCOW: -- I'm grateful to a dedicated servant of the house for bringing forward the mace and restoring it to its place.

I'm sorry but, under the power given to me by standing order number 43 -- and I think the honorable gentleman knows the implications of his action -- I must order the honorable gentleman to withdraw immediately from the house for the remainder of this day's sitting. Mr. Russell- Moyle, please leave.


VAUSE: Lawmaker Lloyd Russell-Moyle tweeted, "Thankfully they haven't locked me in the Tower of London, but if they had, I'd expect May to be in the cell next to me for her treatment of Parliament today. I'm allowed back tomorrow after my symbolic protest against this government. Wish May wasn't allowed back."

Students for France are expected to walk out of their classrooms in the coming hours in solidarity with the so-called Yellow Vest protesters.


VAUSE (voice-over): Four straight weekends of violent anti-government protests effectively backed the French president into a corner and, on Monday, Emmanuel Macron blinked, announcing several major reforms, including raising the minimum wage and scrubbing new pension taxes.

A member of the French cabinet says the measures will cost at least $8 billion. In a televised address, Mr. Macron acknowledged his government has failed to respond to the anger over the increased cost of living.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): We have not been able in the last 18 months, I'm sure, to respond to this properly and I assume my responsibility here.

And unfortunately, I gave the impression that I have other priorities and I was not looking at these issues. And I have also hurt people by some of my comments.


VAUSE: CNN's Ben Wedeman has more now on the president's concessions and whether that will be enough to soothe the growing anger across the country.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Emmanuel Macron spoke to the nation for 13 minutes in a pre-recorded address, during which he began by condemning the violence of some elements within the Gilets Jaune, the so-called Yellow Vests, who have been protesting since the 17th of November.

He promised to increase the minimum wage by 100 euros a month. He said he would cancel a planned increase in taxes for old-age pensioners and he said that he would be encouraging employers to give their employees Christmas bonuses.

But many people said that what he had to offer was too little too late. And in the coming days it is expected that there will be more protests. Students have said that Tuesday will be Black Tuesday. They're protesting educational reforms which will make it more difficult for students to get into universities.

Today there were 120 disruptions at French schools, 40 of which were completely blockaded by the students. It is expected that, on Friday, there will be strike by trade unions.

They will be joined by students and the Gilets Jaune are saying that next Saturday will be Act 5, the fifth Saturday in which they will hold protests -- I'm Ben Wedeman, reporting from Paris.


VAUSE: A bail hearing will resume in the coming hours in Canada for the CFO of telecom giant Huawei. Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver December 1st and accused of helping the company dodge U.S. sanctions on Iran. The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges. Her lawyer is asking for house --


VAUSE: -- arrest while Canadian authorities decide what do next. Meantime, China is outraged. Meng is not just a top executive at Huawei; she's also the founder's daughter.


the Canadian side fails to deal with this issue properly, it will face serious consequences and I can tell you that the consequences are entirely up to Canada.


VAUSE: For more, CNN's Ivan Watson standing by life for us in Hong Kong.

Ivan, much of this case has been so shrouded in mystery the Canadians put a suppression order on a lot of the information coming out of court. But we have had this bail hearing now.

Did we learn any new details in what is involved in the charges and case against Meng?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. It's filling in some of the gaps in this high-profile case. Basically the bail hearing will be extended a second day. And the defense argued that she could be released on bail if she posted a million dollars, if she wore basically an electronic ankle bracelet, paid for private security to monitor her 24 hours.

Argued that she owns property in Vancouver and there wouldn't be a flight risk. And the judge questioned this pretty intensely, questioned the fact that they were proposing that her husband could be a guarantor that she'll not be a flight risk.

The judge arguing, hey, he's not even a resident of Canada, he just has multi entry visas to Canada. So that doesn't fit the definition there.

There were a lot of court documents submitted that indicate, for example, that she owns at least two houses in Vancouver, one to the value of about $16 million and another $5.6 million. Both six-bedroom houses, for example; that she has a long history of health problems, survived thyroid cancer. Suffers from hypertension and she was actually treated at the hospital after her arrest on December 1st for that.

When it comes to the charges against her we learned more in the exchanges between the judge and the defense. The judge citing a letter from the district attorney in New York who issued the original arrest warrant that has led to what would could end up being an extradition case here that the company Skycom (ph), that there is a U.S. Investigation, there has been a U.S. investigation into a number of the company, Huawei's subsidiaries and that Meng had not traveled to the U.S. since March of 2017. And that the New York district attorney had suggested that she was avoiding the U.S. possibly as a result of this grand jury investigation.

The defense arguing, hey, just because she has not traveled there, you cannot draw the conclusion that she is trying to avoid U.S. law enforcement. We also saw a PowerPoint presentation given by Huawei which seemed to

be a response to accusations in the arrest warrant, detailing the company's business and exports to Iran. And stressing that it adheres to U.S., European Union and United Nations sanctions against Iran and that seems to be at the heart of the arrest warrant, something that we still have yet to see -- John.

Ivan, thank you, yes, a lot of stuff coming out on these details, we'll catch up with you thank you.

When we come back, the all-powerful NRA, which is basically the gun- loving group in the U.S., says it might go out of business. And one father says good riddance and is helping to make that happen. Find out how after the break.






VAUSE: For most members of the U.S. Congress, there's two very good reasons to fear the National Rifle Association: millions of dedicated followers who are committed to single-issue voting and deep pockets to target politicians who oppose their pro-gun agenda.

But on the financial side, well, maybe it's not exactly struggling, the NRA has taken a big hit with tax records from last year reporting income at just over $310 million. That's down by $55 million on the previous year. For 2017, they were $26 million in the red.

And according to one of the biggest drivers for the falling revenue is declining membership dues.

At the same time as revenue is down, gun control groups in the New York statehouse have been lobbying businesses both big and small to cut ties with the NRA, which has sparked a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association, alleging the actions of the state legislature as well as the governor have left the group in severe financial straits.

The court filings say that, because the defendants, that's New York State and the governor, Andrew Cuomo, made it clear to banks and insurers that it is bad business in New York to do business with the NRA.

The financial strain appears to be having a very real world impact in the leadup to the midterm congressional elections last month. Political spending by the NRA was down by as much as 90 percent, compared to the 2014 midterm vote, which meant the most powerful and influential pro-gun lobby in the United States was actually outspent by gun control groups last month by almost $2.5 million. And the results from the elections didn't exactly go the way the NRA wanted. Candidates with an F from the NRA were elected to Congress, statehouses as well as governor's mansions. And gun control measures passed in Florida and Washington state.

The idea of forcing companies and corporations to pick a side to directly confront the NRA lobby group, thought so big and powerful it was impossible to challenge head-on -- well, that came out of the tragedy of the Parkland High School shooting in February of this year.

Since then more than 40 companies, many big international corporations ranging from banks to airlines to rental car agencies, have ended whatever relationship they ever had with the NRA.

Fred Guttenberg was the midwife for that plan. His 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, well, she was shot and killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

And Fred, you know, so sorry about your loss. But it's good to be speaking with you now.



GUTTENBERG: Thank you.

VAUSE: I want to -- if you can explain to me, the direct line here, can you draw this direct line between the NRA funding shortfall and your campaign to get businesses to end their relationship with the NRA?

GUTTENBERG: Absolutely. In the week or two following my daughter's murder, the truth is, I walked around my house, saying I want to break that F-ing lobby. And I set out on a mission to go after their money.

It started actually surprisingly quickly with the business side of things. And businesses saying they'll no longer do business with the gun lobby. So the businesses have taken this seriously.

And every day there is new businesses that are saying we won't do business with you.

VAUSE: You know, there's this very pro-gun president right now in the White House.


VAUSE: And with Donald Trump, the NRA seems to be expanding, you know, its core mission, you know, getting to cultural issues, touting lawmakers who voted against the present Supreme Court nominee, for example. But especially with, you know, this recently launched --


VAUSE: -- NRA TV. Here's a clip. Listen to this.


DANA LOESCH, NRA SPOKESWOMAN: How did America end up raising generation paranoia?

Well, probably I would think that many in mainstream media have something to go do with that. Despite the rarity of for instance school shootings, which the author of this article readily admits, kids and parents are waking up anxious every morning wondering if their school is going to be the next target.


VAUSE: Just very quickly, what do you say to that?

GUTTENBERG: I'm going to guess that was Dana -- correct?


GUTTENBERG: Listen, Dana is a tool for the gun lobby. And she is on a daily basis saying things that are insane and incorrect. And that's just another example.

In fact, this year alone shootings in schools were the highest level ever in this country.

VAUSE: With regard to the NRA, the lawsuit which has been filed in New York. It's centered on the fact that the NRA say they can't buy media liability insurance for their channel. They say if they can't buy that insurance, they say the whole think will actually end up folding.

This seems to be a very effective way to simply close down the NRA as opposed to taking away, you know, 10 percent rental discounts on high cards (ph) for members.

GUTTENBERG: The NRA TV troubles are a financial issue. It's not about the insurance. The financial issue is that they don't have the income coming in because they can't sell the insurance. So they are cutting costs and the NRA TV is one place. In fact, they just laid off a bunch of staff last week.

The NRA is for me, the leadership -- is they are evil. Not the members, I don't have an issue with NRA members. But their leadership no longer represents the membership. Their leadership now represents the gun manufacturers. And unfortunately they've gotten involved in some other things politically as well.

But I have an issue with the NRA leadership, they need to be defeated. They need to be financially removed from the grip that they have had on our legislation and our legislators. And we're on our way to getting that done.

VAUSE: Earlier this year there was a CNN town hall. One of the student leaders from Parkland, Cameron Kasky, he asked Senator Marco Rubio about taking NRA campaign money. Here it is.



CAMERON KASKY, STUDENT: In the name of 17 people you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think in the name of 17 people -- I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this --

KASKY: No, but I'm talking NRA money. No.


VAUSE: You know, Kasky nailed him. Rubio was ducking and weaving. He tried to be all things to all people. And that's because for a very, very long time politicians had to keep the NRA -- you know have to keep them happy especially in a place like Florida.

But it does seem like the midterm elections just past have shown that paradigm has now significantly shifted.

GUTTENBERG: It has. You know, this country showed they will put their money and their vote behind those who support gun safety. This election was a turning point. This process is only just beginning.

If you just look ahead in two years, we are going to do it next on the Senate. Marco Rubio, Senator Rubio will pay a price for his lack of leadership and his lack of action following Parkland.

I can tell you, that about -- on the day that the Florida House was passing the gun safety legislation, I was with Senator Rubio in his office. I could get not get him to go out and say he supports the legislation being passed in Florida that day. And was because he was worried about his NRA money.


GUTTENBERG: So he now knows he's on the losing side of that argument. And I look forward to his opponent making him pay a price for it.

VAUSE: OK. Fred -- we are out of time. We shall leave it there but thank you so much for being with us. And we're coming up to the anniversary in February and I know that obviously that's going to be a tough time for you --

GUTTENBERG: It's unbelievable.

VAUSE: -- and you know, our thoughts and prayers with you. And you know, I hope every day gets a little easier, I don't know if it does but I hope it does. Thank.

GUTTENBERG: Thank you very much.


VAUSE: Well, after another day of humiliation, boos and jeers at home the British prime minister is looking for friends so she's heading to Europe. Chances are she will hit another Brexit brick wall there as well.

Plus this:


MAY: I've listened very carefully to what has been said in this chamber and out of it.


[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: with her Brexit deal and leadership on the line, we'll look at what options are left now for Theresa May.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause, with an update of the top stories this hour. French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to raise the minimum wage and scrap new taxes on pensions (INAUDIBLE) weeks of violent anti-government protests.

But these moves may not be enough to ease the growing anger over France's rising cost of living. More marches, more rallies are planned for this weekend, and trade unions are expected to strike on Friday.

A bail hearing for Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou will resume in the coming hours. The CFO of the Chinese telecom giant is accused of helping the company dodge U.S. sanctions on Iran. She's being held in Canada and faces extradition to the United States.

When the going gets tough, the tough it seems goes to Brussels, Theresa May is heading back to Europe to try and win concessions to help her Brexit plan win parliamentary approval. The British prime minister is heading to Berlin and Hague on Tuesday, after cancelling a parliamentary vote on her withdrawal deal. Lawmakers said to overwhelmingly voted down.

Well, the greeting from European leaders may be a little friendlier, the smiles a little warmer, but they likely be just as hard and tough as the British M.P.s when it comes to the Theresa May's plan for leaving the E.U. CNN's Erin McLaughlin reports now from Brussels.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Monday evening, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, quite clearly ruled out the possibility of renegotiating the Brexit deal. The E.U. reached with the U.K., in a tweet, instead calling for a summit for Thursday for the 27 remaining E.U. member states to meet to discuss Article 50. Brexit, as well, as in his words, how to "facilitate U.K. ratification of the deal already reached. He also said that they are going to be discussing no deal scenarios as time is running out before that March 2019 deadline. And talking to E.U. officials and E.U. diplomats here in Brussels, you're definitely getting a sense of frustration with the political situation there, in the U.K.

We heard, on Twitter, from Guy Verhofstadt, the Chief Brexit Coordinator for the European parliament, say, "I can't follow anymore. After two years of negotiations, the Tory government wants to delay the vote. Just keep in mind that we will never let the Irish down. This delay will further aggravate the uncertainty for people and businesses. It's time they make up their mind."

So, Theresa May, may be looking to Brussels, E.U. institutions and member states for reassurance that she notes to get this deal, through parliament. But at this point, in Brussels, there seem to be no easy answers. Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.


[00:35:10] VAUSE: No easy answers and dwindling options. CNN's Richard Quest looks at the choices which Mrs. May now has left.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Whichever way you look, there's no easy path for Theresa May, and basically, the British people. The first option at the moment is that of Westminster taking control. Now, we're seeing this more and more, as parliament adds new amendments, refuses to accept the deal.

It begs the question, what is the option that they will accept, which leads us to the question of restarting negotiations within the E.U. Now, the E.U. has already made it clear, they will not re-open the deal that's been put in place, the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration.

If that remains the case, if neither of these two sides will give ground, well then, you move to option three. The possibility of a general election in the U.K., off the back of a no-confidence vote and the people's vote, the next, the second referendum, however you want to put it.

Because, if none of these take place, you are dangerously close to the fourth option, which is really not an option at all, crashing out of the E.U. Now, nobody said -- they don't want to crash out, but as things stand at the moment, the road runs out on March 29th.

And there's a steep drop off in the end. Lawmakers can't agree on a path. Indeed, whether they want to Brexit at all.


VAUSE: Well, up next here, on CNN NEWSROOM, the climate change refugees, how global warming is driving some migrants to join that caravan to the U.S.


VAUSE: Just 1.5 degrees Celsius could decide the fate of our planet. The rising temperature of the Earth passes that 1.5 threshold, the results could be disastrous. The COP24 climate change conference underway right now, in Poland, is trying to find agreement on how to stop that disaster from happening.

And that would be difficult enough, except climate activists and policy experts say the United States is trying to undermine the talks. On Monday, a U.S. Energy official held a discussion to showcase ways to use fossil fuels as cleanly and efficiently as possible. He was met by laughter and ridicules from protesters.

If global warming continues, experts fear a growing exodus of climate refugees forced to flee drought and starvation. That's already happening in parts of Central America, as CNN's John Sutter reports.


TEXT: It did rain more before, but not so much anymore, because there wasn't much harvested in the corn fields this year. We didn't harvest anything.

[00:40:21] JOHN SUTTER, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Delmi has been struggling to feed herself and four kids these days. The crops just aren't growing like they were. Conditions eventually got so bad that her husband, Herman, fled Honduras for the United States, part of the migrant caravan that attracted the ire of U.S. President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And in that caravan, you have some very bad people.

SUTTER: Herman didn't join the caravan because of violence in his homeland, he left because of drought and climate change. Central America has been hit with an intense and unusual drought in recent years. Crops are failing, starvation is lurking. The U.N. says 2 million people in the region are at risk for hunger.

EDWIN CASTELLANOS, DEAN OF RESEARCH, UNIVERSIDAD DEL VALLE DE GUATEMALA: We have seen events of children actually dying out of hunger, so it is that extreme. These people are moving away. It's not just out of their own will, basically, because they have no option.

SUTTER: The reasons people migrate are complex. But the World Bank says in coming decades, more than 17 million people in Latin America could be forcibly displaced because of climate change. This is already starting to happen in Honduras, and almost nowhere is the trend more pronounced than in Copan.

Data from the U.S. border patrol, which seen and analyzed in collaboration with the University of Texas, shows an increase in migration to the U.S. during the recent drought.

TEXT: I believe around 30 percent of the population -- 25-30 percent of the population has emigrated.

SUTTER: Climate models show it's only getting worse. Droughts are becoming more intense, the relatively small dry quarter of Central America is expanding and it may cover the entire region.

TEXT: When it rains the cob grows. And as you can see, because of the drought, it doesn't.

SUTTER: Evelio says he fled to the U.S. three times with the help of a smuggler. Each time, he was deported back to Honduras.

TEXT: We didn't have much to harvest this year because of the drought. We have very little corn to harvest. We had even fewer beans, very little, because of the drought.

SUTTER: His wife, Nora, says their family would have starved if a relative had not sent them help from the states. She wants Evelio to try the dangerous journey again, but they don't have the money. Climate migrants who join the caravan have little chance of safe and lawful passage to the U.S.

International law does not recognize the rights of so-called climate refugees. And President Trump has claimed that all refugee candidates have to wait in Mexico while their claims are reviewed. Slashing carbon pollution could decrease the number of climate migrants by millions, the World Bank says.

And irrigation projects could help ease the pain of future droughts. But this exodus, already is taking a toll. Delmi's husband died on the road while trying to join the caravan across the border in Guatemala.

TEXT: He said he was going to look for a better life, so that his children wouldn't suffer, so that we wouldn't suffer anymore. However, it wasn't possible, no. What he wanted didn't come true.

SUTTER: Circumstances of his death aren't clear. The family buried him in the land he used to till.

TEXT: He left us alone. He left us alone forever.

SUTTER: John Sutter, CNN, Copan, Honduras.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause, please stay with us, "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.


[00:45:00] (WORLD SPORT)