The Latest: New climate draft shows headway on key issues

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2015 4:28 PM
The Latest:  New climate draft shows headway on key issues

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

10:30 p.m.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has presented a new draft of a global climate accord showing governments have made progress on some crunch issues but still disagree on others.

The 27-page draft released late Thursday — two pages shorter than a previous version — suggested negotiators have settled on a long-term goal of keeping global warming "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F), while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C.

The draft says governments "aim to reach the peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible."

Previous drafts included stronger options with more specific timeframes.

The draft still contained competing options on the key issue of transparency — making sure countries follow through on their emissions targets. The text included an option asking for different rules for rich and poor countries, which the former have said is unacceptable.

Negotiators were given two hours to review the draft and then to come back and continue the talks.

"I think, I hope that by the end of this night we'll have a draft of the final text," Fabius said. "We are much closer."

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9:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande (frahn-SWAH' oh-LAWND') are reviewing what progress has been made toward completing a global climate agreement.

Obama and Hollande spoke by phone on Thursday about the status of the talks. The White House says both leaders underscored their "firm commitment" to cooperating to reach an ambitious and sustainable pact.

Negotiators have been struggling to narrow down a 29-page draft of the sweeping deal to try to slow global warming. But countries remain at odds on critical issues. The deadline to finish the deal is Friday, although the talks could be extended beyond the deadline.

The White House says Obama also thanked Hollande for sending France's aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to help in the fight against the Islamic State group.

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4:45 p.m.

International migration officials want a global climate accord under discussion to address the growing risk of migration because of extreme weather.

The director of the International Organization for Migration, William Lacy Swing, said the planet is seeing more forced migration today than any time since World War II, and seeing what he called "unprecedented anti-immigration sentiment."

"If we add the effect of climate change ... you really have the elements of a perfect storm," he said on the sidelines of the Paris climate talks "We are here ... to find out how to weather that storm."

Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said "every second, a person is forced to flee because of an extreme weather event."

At least 19.3 million people worldwide were driven from their homes by natural disasters last year, most related to weather events, according to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

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4:30 p.m.

The chief United Nations environment officer is still optimistic that a deal will be hammered out soon.

"We're now down to some of the so-called red line issues, some of the defining issues in the convention that have to do with principles," said Achim Steiner, United Nations Environment Program director. " I think the fact that we are now essentially left with maybe 3 or 4 issues that need to have a political compromise negotiated and formulated should give us courage and hope that we are actually moving to an agreement."

Steiner said he thinks the final issue will be differentiation between rich and poor nations, calling it "one of the defining principles of where the convention began its journey."

Steiner said he is still hoping to end talks Friday night as the French have promised.

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3:35 p.m.

Europe's top representative at U.N. climate talks has accused China of blocking proposals for countries to update their carbon pollution targets every five years, which he called critical for a deal in Paris.

EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told reporters Thursday "without the five-year cycles, the agreement is meaningless."

Canete said Chinese negotiators are opposed to making five-yearly updates a requirement in the agreement even though they agreed to such reviews before the Paris talks.

More than 180 countries have presented emissions targets for after 2020, when the envisioned deal is supposed to take effect. Scientific analyses show those targets won't be enough to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial times, the overarching goal of the climate talks.

Canete says "unless you come back every five years to update your targets, you can never reach the long-term goal."

China, the world's biggest carbon polluter, has pledged to peak its emissions "by approximately 2030 or sooner."

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3:05 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is "reasonably optimistic" that countries will reach a strong agreement to slow global warming at Paris talks scheduled to finish Friday.

Ban met Thursday at the climate conference with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and non-governmental organizations seeking a robust deal.

Calling this a "a very critical moment," Ban said "I am hopeful and I'm reasonably optimistic that we will be able to have for the first in the history of the United Nations a universal and very ambitious climate change agreement, which will make our human beings lives healthier and more prosperous."

The last global accord on global warming, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, only required rich countries to cut emissions. The climate change accord currently under negotiation would require all countries to pitch in.

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2:10 p.m.

Activists have a new way of trying to increase pressure on negotiators at the Paris climate talks — with caricatures of big-headed world leaders and piped-in voices from people around the world who want a robust agreement to fight global warming.

Advocacy group Oxfam performed a skit Thursday at the talks with protesters wearing oversized "big head" masks representing world leaders. The big heads slept as an alarm clock rang, trying to rouse them to act to slow down climate change — but the heads stayed asleep.

Nearby, a pyramid of boxes and speakers broadcast voices recorded by activist group Avaaz. A cacophony of languages and pleas resonated in an effort to remind negotiators of concerns of people from countries vulnerable to rising seas and increasingly extreme weather caused in part by man-made carbon emissions.

Many activist groups want the Paris accord to call for an end to fossil fuel use in the long term and to back firm pledges by rich countries to help poor countries pay for future damages caused by climate change.

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2 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Paris climate talks are "getting down to the critical stage," as he meets negotiators from developing countries at the high-stakes conference.

Meeting Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, Kerry said "we need to work on language and that's what most of today and tonight will be."

He and Javadekar didn't elaborate on differences in their positions. Many sticking points remain among delegations over which countries should take the most responsibility for fighting man-made global warming.

Javadekar said, "We have discussed all issues and whatever the differing views on different positions and we are working toward ... because we want Paris to succeed. We want future generations to get a right and good deal from Paris and to that end we work, and I think today's meeting was a productive meeting."

Kerry is also meeting negotiators from Brazil and Malaysia on Thursday, and will meet later with talks host, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

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11:30 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with the environment ministers of two of the largest developing nations as negotiators try to hammer out details of a global accord on climate change by the end of the week.

Kerry was holding talks at the Le Bourget conference site outside of Paris on Thursday with the environment ministers of Brazil and India, according to the State Department. No details of the meetings were immediately available but Brazil and India are among the biggest nations demanding that richer countries pay and do more to reduce carbon emissions.

Kerry is expected to meet with numerous other negotiators who produced a 29-page draft agreement on Wednesday. Much more remains to be resolved to get a final deal by Friday's self-imposed deadline.

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11:05 a.m.

Diplomats and climate negotiators worked almost until dawn and have now resumed talks, narrowing down options in a 29-page draft of a global accord to tackle climate change a day before a self-imposed deadline for the unprecedented agreement.

A French diplomat said talks outside Paris continued until about 5 a.m. Thursday (0400 GMT, 11 p.m. EST Wednesday) before resuming midmorning.

The diplomat said a new draft of the accord is expected to be released sometime Thursday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

The French organizers of the two-week talks want a final agreement by Friday night, though U.N. climate conferences rarely end on time.

The draft released Wednesday left major issues unresolved.

—By Angela Charlton