Paris climate deal: Final draft ready; India takes tough stand
French and UN officials completed an edit early on Saturday morning of the final draft to be presented to ministers for adoption, conference host France said, after nearly two weeks of tough haggling for a climate rescue pact.world Updated: Dec 12, 2015 10:17 IST
French and UN officials completed an edit early on Saturday of the final draft of the Paris climate agreement to be presented to ministers for adoption, climate conference host France said, after nearly two weeks of tough haggling for a climate rescue pact in Paris.
“We have a text to present,” an official in the office of Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who presides over the talks, told AFP.
After translation into the UN’s six official languages, the document will be presented to ministers at 11.30 am (1030 GMT), nearly 16 hours after the conference had been scheduled to close.
It is being hoped the text will be adopted at a special session on Saturday afternoon.
“Everything is in place to achieve a universal, ambitious accord,” said Fabius, the man in-charge of delivering the first-ever pact to bind all nations to climate action. “Never again will we have a more favourable momentum than in Paris.”
World powers have led an overtime push for a deal as sleep-deprived envoys battled in Paris to unlock deep-seated disputes about who must do what to confront climate change.
Many have billed the talks in the northern outskirts of Paris as the last chance to avert worst-case-scenario climate change effects: increasingly severe droughts, floods and storms, as well as rising seas that would engulf islands and populated coasts.
India emerges as key player
Taking a tough stand on emissions and funding, India emerged as key player in the negotiations for the crucial climate change deal, according to a media report. India hit back at developed countries that have been accusing it of refusing to yield ground, saying they were not showing flexibility and posing roadblocks for a comprehensive climate deal, deadline for which was extended on Friday.
Officials wanted to show that the world’s fourth-biggest carbon emitter was ready to play a constructive role in international climate negotiations, the Time magazine said on Friday. “On the other hand, negotiators need to show citizens back home that addressing climate change would not detract from development goals—particularly the need to bring power to the quarter of the population that goes without it,” it said.
Negotiations for a climate change deal hit a roadblock on Friday as developing countries like India and China refused to yield their ground on emissions and funding. The penultimate draft of the deal had agreed to increase funding responsibilities of rich nations, though it failed to arrive at a formula to enforce it. The draft also ceded to calls for categorizing countries as developed and developing nations. Here again, details on how countries would be categorized were yet to be determined.
Better negotiations The Paris talks have largely been free of the fierce arguments that plagued previous UN climate conferences.
But the biggest disputes over fairness and finance remained potential deal-breakers in a draft accord released on Thursday, with nations holding often diametrically-opposing views.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, spearheading American efforts in Paris, warned on Friday that “very difficult” issues needed to be resolved.
Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar spoke more ominously, warning success was not guaranteed and accusing rich nations of inflexibility.
On Thursday, US President Barack Obama spoke with his Chinese counterpart for about half an hour and early this week he telephoned prime minister Narendra Modi on some of the issues dogging the negotiations. Officials did not rule out more calls between Obama and Modi as the negotiations enter the last phase.
The White House said there was a broad agreement about countries making a substantial commitment to reducing their carbon pollution and about specific transparency measures so that people can demonstrate their commitment to the outlined goals.
The agreement would seek to revolutionise the world’s energy system by cutting back or potentially eliminating coal and other fossil fuels, replacing them with renewable sources such as solar and wind.
Obama also spoke with others leader, like Brazil, in a bid to find common ground with other economies with giant carbon footprints.
In Paris, the Chinese delegation’s deputy chief Liu Zhenmin said he was “quite confident” a deal would be sealed on Saturday.
The quest to forge an effective worldwide pact dates back to 1992, when the UN climate convention, an international treaty, was adopted. The process has been dogged by labyrinthine fights, especially over the issue of burden-sharing.
Developing nations insist rich countries must shoulder the lion’s share of responsibility for tackling climate change as they have emitted most of the greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution.
But the United States and other rich nations say emerging giants must also do more.
They argue that developing countries now account for most of today’s emissions and thus will be largely responsible for future warming.
One of the deepest disagreements is about funding the climate fight -- at a cost of trillions of dollars over the decades to come.
Rich countries promised six years ago in Copenhagen to muster $100 billion (92 billion euros) a year by 2020 to help developing nations make the energy shift and cope with the impacts of global warming.
But how the funds will be raised is unclear -- and developing countries demand a commitment to increase the amount after 2020, when the pact enters into force.
Between the lines
Ahead of the talks, most nations submitted voluntary plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions from 2020, a process widely hailed as an important platform for success.
But scientists say that, even if the pledges were fully honoured, Earth would be on track for warming of at least 2.7C.
Nations most vulnerable to climate change have lobbied hard for wording in the Paris pact to limit warming to 1.5C.
But big polluters, such as China, India and oil producing-giant Saudi Arabia, prefer a ceiling of 2C which would allow them to burn fossil fuels for longer.