The Latest: Obama calls Indian PM to discuss climate talks

AP News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2015 2:36 PM
The Latest: Obama calls Indian PM to discuss climate talks

PARIS (AP) — The latest news related to the U.N. climate conference in Paris, which runs through Dec. 11. All times local:

8:30 p.m.

Preside Barack Obama has called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he works to spur a successful conclusion to the climate talks outside Paris.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama is getting regular updates from administration officials in Paris. He anticipates that Obama will be calling other world leaders in the coming days.

The U.S. has been working to persuade developing countries like India to take aggressive action on climate change, a major sticking point in the talks.

Poorer and developing countries say they are less able to deal with climate change and bear less responsibility for it than industrialized nations that have heavily polluted for decades. Modi has said climate change is a global problem that has not been caused by India.

Earnest did not elaborate about Tuesday's call, but says the U.S. has played a leading role in securing emissions commitments from other nations and that the administration is optimistic about the outcome of the climate conference.

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7:35 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he believes the climate change agreement being negotiated outside Paris can make a reference to the desires of the most vulnerable states to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

So far the U.N. climate talks have been guided by a goal of keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees C (3.6 F), compared with pre-industrial times. But some developing countries want an even stronger target, including small island nations who fear that they will be inundated by rising seas.

Kerry told reporters Tuesday that negotiators were working on ways to keep the 2-degree target, while also acknowledging "the aspiration to reach 1.5 (degrees C) if it's doable."

He says "I think you can write that aspiration into the agreement in a way that doesn't make it a target."

Scientific analyses of the pledges countries have made to cut climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions say they would put the world on track for around 3 degrees Celsius of warming.

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4:35 p.m.

Major developing countries taking part in climate talks outside Paris are calling on wealthy nations to increase their financial support to help poor countries to cope with global warming.

In a joint statement, the delegations of China, India, Brazil and South Africa urged rich nations to "progressively and substantially scale up their support" beyond their collective pledge of $100 billion in annual climate financing by 2020.

Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters that rich countries "have not made much headway" toward the $100 billion that they pledged in 2009.

Rich countries say they are on track to fulfill that pledge, pointing to an OECD report this year which said climate finance for developing countries reached $62 billion last year.

The rich nations are also encouraging some major developing nations including China to join the donors. China has pledged more than $3 billion in climate finance but stresses it's a voluntary contribution.

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3:45 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has praised business leaders in Paris for taking effective action against climate change but urged them to do more to help decision-makers reach the 2 degree target.

At a side event at the Paris climate talks, Kerry addressed business owners and promised the U.S. administration was "looking for ways to facilitate (their) choices. Not to stand in the way of them."

Kerry went on to say companies' efforts to curb energy, water and fossil fuel consumption and fight deforestation were key to reaching the 2 degree challenge that "governments are incapable, for political or ideological reasons, of doing on their own."

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3:30 p.m.

The head of China's delegation at U.N. climate talks says that the heavy smog in Beijing in recent days shows how important it is for the country to transition to clean sources of energy.

Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative for climate change, told reporters that it's normal for countries in the process of industrialization "to be suffering from pollution problems."

He pointed to London, which had serious problems with smog linked to pollution from coal plants in the 20th century.

"That's why we are stressing a low-carbon development in a transition to a green economy," Xie said.

The latest bout of pollution in Beijing was the first to trigger a red alert under a two-year-old system. The smog has persisted despite the Chinese government's stated priority of cleaning up the legacy of pollution left from years of full-tilt economic growth. Most of the smog is blamed on coal-fired power plants, along with vehicle emissions, construction and factory work.

China is the world's top consumer of coal but has also become a leader in renewable energy, with rapid expansion of wind and solar power.

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3:15 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he conferred with UN chief Ban ki-Moon on the state of global climate change talks Tuesday.

Kerry is in Paris to attend U.N. climate talks aimed at producing an agreement by the end of the week to fight global warming.

Speaking after his meeting with Ban, Kerry said they "talked about where we are in the negotiations and the steps we need to take to be successful."

Ban "made some suggestions on things we are already focused on and trying to resolve," Kerry said.

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10:25 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is mocking climate change doubters who downplay the effect of rising sea levels.

Speaking to a U.N. Foundation meeting in Paris on the health of the world's oceans, Kerry took his criticism a step further Tuesday, saying the refusal to recognize the threat is "insane" and "insulting to everything we learned in high school about science."

"We have people who still deny this: Members of the flat earth society who seem to believe that the ocean rise won't be a problem because the water will just spill over the edge," Kerry said to appreciative laughter from the audience that included U.N. Foundation founder Ted Turner.

Kerry is in Paris to attend U.N. climate talks aimed at producing an agreement by the end of the week to fight global warming.

While most scientists say man-made emissions are warming the planet and causing increasingly extreme weather, many Republicans in the U.S. Congress doubt climate change is a serious problem, and worry that cutting emissions would hurt U.S. industry and jobs.

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9:15 a.m.

The Vatican is lending itself to environmentalism with a special public art installation timed to coincide with the final stretch of climate negotiations in Paris.

On Tuesday night, the facade of St. Peter's Basilica will be turned into a massive backdrop for a photo light show about nature organized by several humanitarian organizations.

The initiative, featuring images by National Geographic and well-known photographers including Sebastiao Salgado, is similar to ones that used the U.N. headquarters and the Empire State Building in New York as backdrops.

Pope Francis has strongly backed the environmental cause, issuing a landmark encyclical in which he blasted the fossil-fuel-based economy for impoverishing much of humanity and destroying the planet.

Organizers offered the installation as a gift to Francis to mark his Holy Year of Mercy, which began Tuesday.