Climate change negotiators aim for draft agreement on Saturday

LE BOURGET, France -- Talks on a global pact to fight global warming appeared to make progress late Friday, with some negotiators telling The Associated Press a deal was close.

See Full Article

Negotiators emerged from meetings with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the host of the talks, amid an air of optimism that had been lacking just hours earlier.

Fabius was expected to present a new, potentially final draft of the elusive accord Saturday morning at 9 a.m. (0800 GMT).

"We are pretty much there," Egyptian Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy, the chairman of a bloc of African countries, told the AP late Friday. "There have been tremendous developments in the last hours. We are very close."

A negotiator from a developed country was equally positive. "I think we got it," said the negotiator, who was not authorized to speak publicly as the talks were not over yet.

Negotiators from more than 190 countries in Paris are aiming to create something that's never been done before: an agreement for all countries to reduce man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and help the poorest adapt to rising seas, fiercer weather and other impacts of global warming.

This accord is the first time all countries are expected to pitch in -- the previous emissions treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, only included rich countries.

The talks, originally scheduled to end Friday, dragged into an extra day as the French hosts said they needed more time to overcome disputes.

A French official expressed confidence that the draft to be presented Saturday would be the final one. The official was not authorized to speak publicly because the negotiations were ongoing.

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.

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."

Earlier Friday, Liu stood firm on his nation's demand that rich countries should assume most responsibility for the costs and argued against an agreement that sets too-tough goals for weaning the world off using oil, gas and coal -- the biggest source of carbon emissions.

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

Liu told reporters that issue is "at the core of our concern for the Paris agreement." He said he wants different rules for different countries "clearly stipulated" in the global warming pact.

China is among the more than 180 countries that have submitted emissions targets for the new pact but is resisting Western proposals for robust transparency rules that would require each country to show whether it's on track to meet its target.

Liu also argued against sharply limiting the number of degrees the planet warms this century, because that would involve huge lifestyle and economic changes.

"We need heating. We need air conditioning. You need to drive your car," he said.

Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also said differentiation was the biggest dispute and accused developed countries of not showing enough flexibility in the talks.

However, signs of divisions among major developing countries surfaced Friday as Brazil joined an informal coalition of Western countries and some developing ones in a "high-ambition coalition" that is calling for a strong deal.

Liu dismissed the coalition as a "performance."

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, on his fifth straight day in France trying to iron out differences with developing countries, said he's "hopeful" for an accord and has been working behind the scenes to reach compromises.

U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern declined to comment after a meeting with Fabius late Friday.

The talks are the culmination of years of U.N.-led efforts to create a long-term climate deal. U.N. climate conferences often run past their deadlines, given the complexity and sensitivity of each word in an international agreement and the consequences for national economies.

Analysts said the delay until Saturday was not necessarily a bad sign.

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

A 27-page draft released Thursday said governments would aim to peak the emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases "as soon as possible" and strive to reach "emissions neutrality" by the second half of the century -- a vague term generally understood to mean no more emissions than the Earth can naturally absorb. That was weaker language than in previous drafts, which included more specific emissions cuts and timeframes.

China's Liu said negotiators don't understand what is meant by "neutrality" and argued for an even softer "low-carbon" goal.

The draft didn't resolve how to deal with demands from vulnerable countries to deal with unavoidable damage from rising seas and other climate impacts. One option said such losses would be addressed in a way that doesn't involve liability and compensation -- a U.S. demand.

Sopoaga, the Tuvalu leader, said he had discussed the issue with Kerry and that he was optimistic that a solution would be found.

Fabius said the world would not find a better moment to reach a global climate deal.

"All the conditions are met to reach a universal, ambitious agreement," he said.

Sylvie Corbet, Seth Borenstein, Matthew Lee and Nicolas Garriga in Le Bourget contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Canada saw nearly 20M visitors in 2016: Destination Canada

    Canada News CTV News
    In a sign that interest in Canada as a travel destination is rising, the country's tourism office reports that 2016 saw the arrival of 19.98 million international travellers, narrowly missing the all-time record set in 2002. Source
  • Malaysia wants to question North Korea diplomat in murder probe of dictator's sibling

    World News CBC News
    Malaysian police named on Wednesday a senior official in the North Korean embassy and another linked to its state airline, wanted for questioning over the murder last week of Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader's estranged half-brother. Source
  • 'Refugees Welcome' banner unfurled at Statue of Liberty

    World News CTV News
    In this photo provided by Vitoria Londero, a giant banner saying "Refugees Welcome" hangs on pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in New York. (Vitoria Londero via AP) Source
  • Former Hong Kong chief executive Tsang sentenced to 20 months in prison

    World News CBC News
    A former leader of Hong Kong was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in prison for misconduct over a luxury apartment in mainland China intended for his retirement. Judge Andrew Chan said that he was going to sentence Donald Tsang to 30 months in jail but took off 10 months because of his good character and contribution to Hong Kong. Source
  • Suspects wiped toxin on Kim Jong Nam, Malaysia police chief says

    World News CTV News
    Malaysia's police chief says the two female suspects in the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother at Kuala Lumpur's airport were trained to wipe toxin on his face, then wash their hands. Source
  • Pilot radioed in 'Mayday' call before Melbourne plane crash

    World News CTV News
    DALLAS - A pilot repeatedly yelled out "Mayday" but did not say what the emergency was before his light plane crashed into the roof of an Australian shopping mall, killing himself and four American tourists, an accident investigator said Wednesday. Source
  • A bounty on my head, I’m a virtual prisoner in Delhi

    World News Toronto Sun
    For the past few weeks I have been a virtual prisoner inside my Delhi Hotel, unable to walk out or attend any public event unless accompanied by “security.” Threats by Islamic clerics that I had initially shrugged off as false bravado have turned out to be serious after one cleric pronounced on my TV show that I was a “kafir,” an apostate from Islam that, under some interpretations of sharia law, allows any Muslim to kill me, as stated unambiguously by a Canadian Islamic cleric. Source
  • Pilot yelled 'Mayday' before crashing into Australian mall

    World News CBC News
    A pilot repeatedly yelled out "Mayday" but did not say what the emergency was before his light plane crashed into the roof of an Australian shopping mall, killing himself and four American tourists, an accident investigator said Wednesday. Source
  • Ontario senior puts truck up for sale, leaves rental home over hydro costs

    Canada News CTV News
    An Ottawa-area senior says unaffordable hydro bills have forced him to leave his rental home and put his truck up for sale, a scenario opposition MPPs say is becoming more common. Rick Russell, 68, erected a sign on his Brockville rental home that reads 'Another senior loses home due to high energy costs' as a warning to other seniors. Source
  • Vancouver drug users take to streets in national day of action

    Canada News CBC News
    About 200 people marched through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Tuesday demanding the federal government change its drug policy. "There's a systemic aspect to this," said organizer Jordan Westfall of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD). Source