Wednesday 28 September 2016

Agreement edges closer at climate change summit

Published 11/12/2015 | 02:30

Activists of global anti-poverty charity Oxfam wearing masks depicting some of the world leaders – US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President François Hollande, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – during a protest in Paris
Activists of global anti-poverty charity Oxfam wearing masks depicting some of the world leaders – US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President François Hollande, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – during a protest in Paris

A climate deal has moved a step closer after negotiators at the UN summit made significant progress overnight on reaching agreement.

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Key issues, including finance for developing nations to tackle climate change and an agreement to increase ambition in the near future, have been largely addressed, but there remain considerable differences between the 200 nations in Paris.

The president of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), Laurent Fabius, said he was confident of reaching a "universal agreement" by late today.

"We are much closer," he said.

Key developments include:

l The parties have agreed to hold the increase in average global temperatures to "well below" 2C and to aim for an upper limit of 1.5C - this was a key demand from small island states;

l The text also agrees to reach a peak for greenhouse gas emissions "as soon as possible" and to make "rapid reductions" thereafter. It also says that in the second half of the century, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions will stabilise;

l It commits parties to provide €100bn in finance for developing nations, with a provision that some of these countries - such as China and India - will contribute over time;

l There is a requirement that parties provide more ambitious pledges to reduce emissions by 2019.

However, disagreement remains on how emission cuts are verified and there is as yet no framework for addressing loss and damage which will arise in vulnerable countries that are affected by climate change.

There is also a lack of clarity over the efforts required from developing countries to grow their economies without producing emissions - this is called 'differentiation'.

Trócaire said the coming text was "considerably weaker" for poor and vulnerable communities. It was particularly disappointment that a reference to human rights was not included.

"We're seriously worried that there will be a deal, but it's not the one we need for the poorest people and future generations," its head of policy, Dr Lorna Gold, said.

The aid agency added that there appeared to be a lack of leadership from the EU on human rights, with little focus on the most marginalised.

However, Dr Diarmuid Torney, from DCU's School of Law and Government, said the text was an improvement and that a lot of options had been removed.

A final draft will be produced later today.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said that while the text remained "open", it pointed towards an "ambitious agreement".

Separately, a group of Irish climate-change activists have been temporarily refused entry to France.

All public protests have been banned following the Paris terrorist attacks.

Irish Independent

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