Thursday 8 December 2016

Eyes of the world on Paris as UN climate summit reaches critical point

Paul Melia Environment Editor in Paris

Published 09/12/2015 | 09:50

US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, talks with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during the Caring for Climate Business Forum event as part of the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, talks with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during the Caring for Climate Business Forum event as part of the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change

THE eyes of the world are on Paris this morning as the UN climate summit reaches a critical juncture.

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The draft text of an agreement will be published early this afternoon, and reaction will dictate whether an ambitious deal at the end of the two-week 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) is possible.

Almost 200 countries are involved in the protracted negotiations, but major sticking points remain.

They include how much will be needed in financial support for developing nations to adapt to climate change, the establishment of a system to verify that emissions are being cut in individual countries and a provision to allow ambition to be ramped up over time.

Smaller, vulnerable countries most at risk from rising sea levels including the Marshall Islands also want a reference to be included where countries commit to a long-term goal of keeping global temperatures at no more than 1.5C above current levels.

The current 2C cap agreed by parties will not be enough to protect them from rising sea levels and increases in extreme weather events, they insist.

Sources said once the text was published, the French presidency of COP would play a key role.

It will have to negotiate competing demands from developed and developing nations including who pays the bulk of financing costs and how poorer countries are allowed grow their economies without increasing emissions.

The draft text will be published early this afternoon. A plenary sessions will take place early this evening, when countries will formally respond, before negotiators enter the final 48 hours of discussions with a view to finalising an agreement by Friday.

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