With new climate draft, a deal creeps closer in Paris

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2015 9:40 AM

By Bruce Wallace and Alister Doyle

PARIS (Reuters) - Eleven days of negotiations produced a slimmer but still-troubled version of a climate deal on Wednesday, with negotiators from 195 countries divided over how far to go in curbing global temperature rises - and how to pay for it.

"We've made progress but still a lot of work remains to be done," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told delegates gathered on the outskirts of Paris who are supposed to wrap up an accord by Friday. "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

Fabius said the parties had snipped 14 pages from the previous 43-page draft and settled two-thirds of their disputes over wording, movement Fabius said "constitutes progress."

But the remaining disputes over the language reflect fundamental disagreements about which countries should shoulder the cost of moving the world to a low-carbon energy system.

Developing countries are demanding that rich governments be obliged to scale up climate finance from the $100 billion a year already promised beginning in 2020.

Wealthier countries balk at language that would leave them legally bound to do so. They are pressing for an alternative plan that would see financial resources mobilized from private as well as public sources, and drawn from a wider community of donor nations such as China and others that can afford it.

Differences also remain over what is known as the "ambition" of the agreement. That includes reviewing and toughening promises for action in future aimed at how quickly carbon emissions should peak and retreat.

Disputes also remain over whether the ultimate target of the deal should hold global warming to a 2 degree Celsius rise (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, or the 1.5 Celsius (2.7 F) that many scientists say is the only safe level.

"On these issues I ask you to scale up your consultations to speedily come to compromise solutions," Fabius told delegates.

CRUNCH ISSUES

"On the big crunch issues there’s no real sign of progress," said Tim Gore, climate policy chief at Oxfam, a global charity active on the issue.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry raised another point of contention in a speech delivered to the conference shortly before the latest draft was released. He urged negotiators to ensure there is a way to verify whether countries are meeting any promises they make in Paris.

"We need to require regular reporting from all countries on what they’re doing and how much progress they’re making," Kerry said, adding that was "the only way to give both the private and public sectors confidence that the promises we’re making have weight behind them."

But Kerry injected a dose of hope into the proceedings with an announcement of more money for countries to defend themselves against the effects of climate upheaval. He promised to double U.S. grants for climate adaption to the most vulnerable countries to $860 million a year.

It remains to be seen if that pledge induces developing countries to move closer to the U.S. and other wealthy nations.

Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, who leads the main group of more than 130 developing nations in Paris, accused rich nations of spending "an incredible amount of effort trying to divide the group" by giving aid only to the most vulnerable countries rather than helping all.

Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar encouraged all sides to keep talking. "I want to make it very clear that if everybody, all nations keep a positive mindset, an accommodative spirit ... then solution is possible, feasible practical and most acceptable," he said.

(Additional reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Janet Lawrence)