The Latest: France: Final climate text expected within hours

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 11:29 PM
The Latest: France: Final climate text expected within hours

PARIS (AP) — The latest news related to the U.N. climate conference outside Paris. All times local:

5:20 a.m.

A French official says the final text of an international accord against global warming should be released a couple of hours later than hoped, though negotiators say they are getting close to a deal.

The official said early Saturday that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius aims to present a final draft at 11:30 a.m. (1030GMT). The original deadline had been Friday, then Fabius said he was aiming for 9 a.m. Saturday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to be publicly named discussing the negotiations.

After the text is presented, delegations are expected to have a few hours to study it before it goes to an open plenary meeting for eventual adoption.

The accord would be the first requiring all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say cause global warming.

12:10 a.m.

Negotiators working on a global climate pact in Paris say they are getting close to a deal.

"We are pretty much there," Egyptian Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy, the chairman of a bloc of African countries, told The Associated Press late Friday.

"There have been tremendous developments in the last hours. We are very close," he said.

Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu was also upbeat.

"The signals that have come to me give me encouragement that we are going to have a very ... comprehensive and strong agreement in Paris," Sopoaga told the AP.

The French hosts of the conference were working on a new draft to be presented to negotiators at 9 a.m. (0800 GMT) Saturday. A French official expressed confidence that it would be the final draft. The official was not authorized to speak publicly because the negotiations were ongoing.

Liu Zhenmin, deputy chief of the Chinese delegation, was more cautious. Asked by the AP whether the draft would be the final one, he said only if "it's more or less acceptable."

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9:45 p.m.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says "all conditions" are ripe to reach a "universal and ambitious" agreement to curb global warming in Paris.

He says "conditions have probably never been so favorable," speaking after day-long meetings with countries and groups of countries to try to find a compromise on the text.

Fabius called on the ministers of over 190 countries gathered in Paris to take on their "responsibilities" and move forward in a "spirit of compromise."

He said he's making final adjustments to the text in order to be able to present a final draft on Saturday morning that could be adopted by Saturday afternoon.

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8 p.m.

China is standing firm at the Paris climate talks on its demand that rich countries should bear a greater burden than developing ones in reducing emissions and helping countries cope with global warming.

Liu Zhenmin, deputy chief of the Chinese delegation, told reporters Friday the issue is "at the core of our concern for the Paris agreement." He said he wants different rules for different countries "clearly stipulated" in a deal that may be finalized Saturday.

The U.S. and European countries want to move away from this "differentiation" among economies, and want big emerging countries like China and India to pitch in more in a final climate deal.

Liu also argued against setting a too-tough long-term goal on reducing carbon emissions, or sharply limiting the number of degrees the planet warms this century, because that would involve huge lifestyle and economic changes.

He says "we need heating, we need air conditioning, you need to drive your car."

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7:45 p.m.

U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern sees a different mood in Paris than at the troubled Copenhagen climate negotiations in 2009.

Between bites of pizza Friday at the Paris climate talks, Stern told The Associated Press "I think there's more of a sense that something is going to get done ... but we're not there yet."

Stern said the U.S. has been having lots of talks with India, saying "hopefully we're making some progress, but we'll see how it goes." Stern said the last sticking points in the deal are likely to be the exact climate responsibilities between rich and poor nations, loss and damage issues and financing to counter the effects of global warming.

Stern said he'd expect a deal being wrapped up Saturday night, possibly into early Sunday morning.

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5:10 p.m.

Diplomacy and hard science are clashing as the Paris climate talks go into overtime.

The latest draft of a proposed international climate agreement lists a goal of "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Earth has already warmed nearly 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

Five top European scientists said Friday those goals are great and scientifically valid — but the rest of the agreement doesn't come close to achieving them and in some ways even goes backward.

Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research in Britain told The Associated Press that "there's an absolutely huge disconnect ... between the negotiations and the political rhetoric and what's very clearly coming out of the science."

Anderson said because the Paris draft proposal dropped any discussions about carbon dioxide emissions from shipping and airplanes, he considers it "weaker than that which came out of Copenhagen" in 2009.

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4:50 p.m.

Brazil has announced it has joined the "high ambition coalition," a group of developed and developing countries that are jointly pushing for an ambitious accord in Paris to curb global warming.

In a meeting Friday at Paris' climate conference with Marshall Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs Tony de Brum, Brazil Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira reinforced Brazil's commitment to "a fair, balanced, ambitious and long-lasting agreement."

She says "if you want to tackle climate change, you need ambition and political will. Brazil proudly supports the high ambition coalition."

The "high ambition coalition" includes African, Caribbean and Pacific countries along with the United States and all EU members.

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4:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) are recommitting to close cooperation toward a global climate agreement as talks head into overtime.

Obama and Xi spoke on the phone on Thursday evening. The White House says Friday the call was to coordinate efforts at the talks outside Paris, which the two leaders agreed are "a crucial opportunity" to get the world to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

Obama's call with Xi follows others in the past few days with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (nah-REN'-drah MOH'-dee) and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The U.S. has been seeking an agreement under which developing countries like India, China and Brazil take aggressive action alongside wealthier, industrialized countries to fight global warming.

The U.S. and China have struck major joint agreements to curb emissions that raised hopes that countries like India and Brazil would follow suit.

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4:15 p.m.

India's environment minister says wealthy nations are not showing enough flexibility as talks on a new climate accord are heading into overtime.

Prakash Javadekar told reporters Friday at the U.N. climate talks that India wants a "just and equitable accord" that spares the world's poor from the "ill impacts" of climate change. He says "unfortunately, the developing world is accommodating and the developed world is not accommodating and is not showing flexibility."

He says the disagreements are focused on "differentiation" — how to define the responsibilities of countries in different stages of economic development.

Wealthy nations insist the firewall between rich and poor countries must go — all must fight global warming. They say large developing nations such as China, the world's top greenhouse gas emitter, must also play a role in fighting climate change and helping the poorest countries cope with it.

But a bloc of nations including India and China is resisting those efforts, saying wealthy nations including the U.S., Japan and European countries have more historical responsibility because they have polluted the atmosphere for much longer.

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4 p.m.

Hundreds of climate activists have stretched a block-long red banner through the Paris climate talks to symbolize "the red lines" that they don't want negotiators to cross in trying to reach an international accord to fight global warming.

Chanting "Equity!" and "Finance!" they are arguing for more help for poor countries in reducing their emissions and dealing with future damage from rising seas and extreme weather.

The banner ran the length of the main pedestrian thoroughfare between buildings at the climate talks, a passage that organizers dubbed the "Champs-Elysees" after the famed Parisian avenue. The stunt Friday was among several authorized protests inside the conference venue.

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2:35 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he's hopeful that negotiators can finalize a landmark climate accord Saturday and has been working behind the scenes to reach compromises on contentious issues.

He told reporters Friday at the talks outside of Paris "there was a lot of progress made last night, a long night, but still a couple of very difficult issues that we're working on."

He says "I'm hopeful ... it could come to a conclusion sometime tomorrow." The French hosts are aiming for a final draft Saturday, a day after the scheduled end of the two-week talks.

Kerry said some envoys "have been working quietly behind the scenes to work out compromises ahead of time" but he would not elaborate on what those were.

Kerry met Friday with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Indian Environment Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar.

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1:20 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says negotiators trying to finalize a sweeping climate accord are still in disagreement over how far-reaching it should be and who should pay for damages wrought by global warming.

"There are still outstanding issues," Ban told reporters Friday in Le Bourget, outside Paris. Among them are "ambitions, climate financing" and so-called differentiation — whether big emerging economies like China and India should pitch in to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and help the poorest countries cope with climate change.

Talks host and France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said after meeting with Ban that he is aiming to have a final draft accord ready by 9 a.m. (0800GMT) Saturday to present to the more than 190 delegations at the talks.

Fabius stayed up most of the night in negotiations, and said he is resuming meetings with "all groups" Friday afternoon.

"We are almost at the end of the road," Fabius said.

Ban said he's "convinced and confident" that they'll reach an "ambitious, strong accord."

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12:05 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to return to marathon global climate negotiations after staying at the conference site into the wee hours of the morning.

Celebrating his 72nd birthday on Friday, Kerry was to plunge back into the detailed talks with a meeting with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon in the afternoon. Kerry stayed at the talks in Le Bourget outside of Paris until 2 a.m. Friday, meeting with U.S., French and other negotiators and delivering the American response to a new draft accord.

Negotiators had been aiming to wrap up the talks on Friday, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that deadline would not be met. Saturday is the new target, he said.

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10:40 a.m.

Analysts say a delay in the Paris climate talks is not necessarily a bad sign.

They said it is not surprising, given that international negotiators are trying for an accord that will change the global economy over the long term.

"This needs consensus," said Michael Jacobs, an economist with the New Climate Economy project, speaking to reporters outside Paris. "There's a lot of negotiating to do."

The French co-host of the talks said the final accord wouldn't be ready Friday as hoped but would run until Saturday.

Economist and climate expert Lord Nicholas Stern said an accord cutting carbon emissions over the long term is important for the business world, and so it is important to get broad agreement.

"Those making investments now can be much more confident that making those low carbon will be profitable, and making them high carbon carries financial risk," he said.

Sam Barratt of advocacy group Avaaz said, "These talks matter. We would rather they take their time and were patient with the right deal than rush it and get a breakdown ... Getting 200 countries to agree on anything is tough. Getting them to agree on the future of the planet and a deal on climate change is probably one of the toughest pieces of negotiation they'll ever get involved in."

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8 a.m.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says high-stakes climate talks he is co-hosting outside Paris will not end Friday as planned but will last at least until Saturday.

Diplomats and other top officials from more than 190 countries are trying to agree on the text of what would be an unprecedented deal for all countries to reduce man-made carbon emissions and cooperate to adapt to rising seas and increasingly extreme weather caused by human activity.

The two-week talks were scheduled to wrap up Friday. Fabius said on BFM television Friday morning, "I will not present the text Friday evening, as I had thought, but Saturday morning."

"There is still work to do," he said. "Things are going in the right direction."

Negotiators from China, the U.S. and other nations haggled into the early morning Friday over how to share the burden of fighting climate change and paying for a trillion-dollar transition to clean energy on a global scale.