Al Gore praises 'humanity's moral courage' after historic climate deal reached

LE BOURGET, France -- The latest on the U.N. climate conference outside Paris (all times local):

8:05 p.m.

Ministers and delegates are praising the new global climate accord.

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Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore says "years from now, our grandchildren will reflect on humanity's moral courage to solve the climate crisis. And they will look to December 12, 2015, as the day when the community of nations finally made the decision to act."

South African environment minister Edna Molewa calls the pact "the best we can get at this historic moment." She says it "can map a turning point to a better and safer world" but she added that developed countries still have to cut emissions more and help poorer nations to counter the effects of global warming.


7:30 p.m.

Governments have adopted a global agreement that for the first time asks all countries to reduce or rein in their greenhouse gas emissions.

Loud applause erupted in the conference hall outside of Paris after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius gaveled the agreement Saturday. Some delegates started crying. Others embraced.

More than 190 countries had been negotiating the pact for four years after earlier attempts to reach such a deal failed.


7:28 p.m.

Governments have adopted a global climate pact that for the first time asks all countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.


7:20 p.m.

A Western diplomat tells The Associated Press that Paris climate talks have been held up for nearly two hours because the United States objects to one word in the draft agreement.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday because he was not authorized to comment publicly, said the U.S. wants the word "shall" changed to "should" in a clause on emissions targets out of fears that it might require the Obama administration to seek approval from the Republican-controlled Senate.

-- By Matt Lee.


5:50 p.m.

U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern says the United States will agree to a draft climate change accord at global talks.

Stern spoke to reporters Saturday shortly before negotiators from nearly 200 countries were to begin their final meeting at the conference site outside Paris.

The unprecedented deal to slow global warming begins by cutting and then eliminating greenhouse gas pollution.

In the "Paris agreement," countries would commit to keeping average global temperatures from rising another degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) between now and 2100, a key demand of poor countries ravaged by rising sea levels and other effects of climate change. Still, the pact doesn't have any mechanism to punish countries that don't or can't contribute toward that goal.


5:10 p.m.

Thousands of protesters in Paris, under the close watch of riot police, are holding hands beneath the Eiffel Tower and denouncing a burgeoning Paris climate accord as too weak to save the planet.

Paris police authorized Saturday's protest despite continued security fears and a state of emergency declared because of the deadly Nov. 13 attacks. The activists remained cheerful as they demonstrated on the Champ de Mars field that stretches beneath the tower.

Danielle Lefait, a retired deaf student teacher, says she is protesting because she is afraid of the environmental risks of proposed shale gas extraction in her town of Arras in northern France. Other protesters are angry the draft climate accord doesn't do more to force governments to give up fossil fuels blamed for warming the planet.

Protesters also stretched a two-kilometre (1.2-mile) red banner from the Arc de Triomphe to the La Defence business district in Paris -- illustrating the "red line" they say climate negotiators shouldn't cross if they want to protect vulnerable people and the Earth.


4 p.m.

Mostapha Zaher head of the Afghan delegation at the Paris climate talks, believes an "overwhelming majority" of the delegates will be satisfied with the final draft of a global climate accord.

Zaher says he's "almost absolutely certain" the final draft is going to be formally adopted later on Saturday. He says he has been to such conferences for many years and "I hadn't seen a buildup like today, electricity in the air."

He says Afghanistan is being "ravaged" by climate change: "Our glaciers are melting ... erratic weather patterns are having a dire effect on our agriculture."

Zaher stressed the Paris agreement would allow "proper transfers of clean technology to Afghanistan." But he also says "we have to -- also as a least-developed country -- play our role to help ourselves."

Afghanistan has promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 13.6 per cent below the 2030 business-as-usual scenario.


2:30 p.m.

A top climate scientist who was critical of draft negotiation texts on Friday has praised the final draft as being consistent with science.

John Schellnhuber, director of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, says that "if agreed and implemented, this means bringing down greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero within a few decades."

He says the accord presented Saturday "is in line with the scientific evidence we presented of what would have to be done to limit climate risks such as weather extremes and sea-level rise. To stabilize our climate, CO2 emissions have to peak well before 2030 and should be eliminated as soon as possible after 2050."

He added that "governments can indeed write history today, so future generations will remember the Paris summit for centuries to come."

Delegates are studying the accord, which may be adopted later Saturday.


2:20 p.m.

A draft universal climate accord sets a global goal of peaking global greenhouse gas emissions "as soon as possible."

It also calls for achieving a balance between man-made emissions and the Earth's ability to absorb them by the second half of this century.

The wording removed disputed concepts like "climate neutrality" or "emissions neutrality" which had appeared in earlier drafts but were met with opposition from countries including China.

The draft agreement included a section on "loss and damage," an issue pushed by small island nations and other vulnerable countries who wanted the deal to recognize that there are some impacts of climate change that they cannot adapt to.

However, an adjoining decision linked to the agreement said the loss and damage article "does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation" -- a key demand of the United States.

Another article of the draft agreement said wealthy nations should continue to provide financial support for poor nations to cope with climate change.

It also said "other parties are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily." That's a new concept in the climate talks, suggesting the most advanced developing countries should also pitch in.


2:10 p.m.

Activists gathered near the Eiffel Tower are already denouncing a potential global climate accord as insufficient to protect the planet.

As organizers of the Paris climate talks presented what they hope is a final draft of the accord, protesters from environmental and human rights groups gathered in Paris to call attention to populations threatened by rising seas and increasing droughts and floods.

Thomas Coutrot of advocacy group Attac said the accord is an optical illusion that "masks" a lack of serious policy changes like abandoning oil altogether.

"This accord is unacceptable," he said. He called for declaring "a state of climate emergency."

Delegates are studying the accord, which may be adopted later Saturday.

Guillaume Durin of Alternatiba said, "we are convinced the agreement won't be enough."


1:40 p.m.

France has presented what it calls the "final draft" of a potentially historic global agreement to fight climate change to international negotiators.

The 31-page draft, called the "Paris Agreement" was released Saturday after two weeks of talks at high-stakes, high-level negotiations outside Paris.

The delegates from nearly 200 countries will review the draft in coming hours, and the French organizers are hoping to adopt the accord later Saturday.


1:05 p.m.

Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga has not seen the draft agreement, but is ready to support it.

"What text? We're still waiting," Sopoaga said walking out of the meeting where a draft deal was announced by French officials Saturday.

He added he thought the leaders spoke well and that "we need to give them our support."

Island nations like Tuvalu are especially vulnerable to rising seas and global warming and have been vocal about the needs for the strongest possible efforts to limit climate change.


12:55 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he believes a universal climate pact is "teed up" to be adopted on Saturday.

The French hosts of the Paris talks are set to release a draft agreement in the afternoon.

"It should be good but we'll see. Little things can happen but we think it's teed up," Kerry told reporters.


12:35 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande has called on nearly 200 nations to adopt "the first universal agreement on climate."

Hollande told delegates at the Paris conference that the deal would be "unprecedented" in the history of international climate talks.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a "final" draft of the agreement would be translated and distributed Saturday afternoon.


12:25 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made an impassioned entreaty to world diplomats negotiating a potential accord to fight global warming.

"The whole world is watching. Billions of people are relying on your wisdom," he said Saturday.

He also said that: "The time has come to acknowledge that national interests are best served by acting in the international interest."

"We have to do as science dictates. We must protect the planet that sustains us. We need all our hands on deck."

He spoke as a new, potentially final draft of the accord was prepared, which would require all countries to take steps to reduce emissions and help each other cope with climate change.


12:05 p.m.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says a "final" draft of a global climate pact would be legally binding.

Fabius also says the accord would aim to keep the rise in global temperatures "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times to the end of this century and "endeavour to limit" them even farther, to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

That was a key demand of small island nations and other poor and vulnerable countries.

Fabius' comments came Saturday as delegates neared the end of two weeks of talks aimed at producing the first international pact asking all countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.


11:35 a.m.

A French official says a new draft climate accord to be presented to negotiators at U.N. talks on Saturday is about "20 pages."

That would be about seven pages shorter than a previous draft, suggesting competing options have been deleted.

The official spoke condition of anonymity because the draft had not been released yet.

Anticipation was building in the conference centre outside Paris after two weeks of talks, culminating a four-year effort to produce the first international pact asking all countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

By Angela Charlton at Le Bourget


9:20 a.m.

Several environmental and human rights groups are planning protests around Paris on Saturday to call attention to populations threatened by man-made global warming and urge an end to human use of oil, gas and coal.

The protests are timed to coincide with the end of two weeks of climate talks outside Paris. Organizers are hoping to reach a final international accord sometime Saturday.

The last big climate protests in Paris, on the eve of the talks Nov. 29, ended in tear gas and more than 100 arrests as some activists defied a ban on demonstrations. The ban was linked to France's state of emergency, put in place because of Islamic extremist attacks a month ago.

Organizers say their main demonstration Saturday, near the Eiffel Tower, has been authorized by Paris police.


8:00 a.m.

French President Francois Hollande will join the Paris climate talks as delegates debate what organizers hope is the final draft of an unprecedented agreement among all countries to fight global warming together.

Hollande's office says he will give a speech alongside U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the 11:30 a.m. (1030GMT) meeting to show "the importance of deciding and now adopting the draft text."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has been leading plenary meetings at the two weeks of U.N. climate talks. Hollande's presence will give extra weight to Saturday's session.

French officials say what they hope is the final draft has been completed and is being translated for discussion among delegates.


7:25 a.m.

A French official says a new, possibly final draft of a landmark global deal to fight climate change has been completed after late-night negotiations and will be presented to world negotiators outside Paris within hours.

The official said the text is being translated into other languages before being presented at a special meeting at the Paris climate talks at 11:30 a.m. (1030 GMT). The official, who was not authorized to be publicly named in discussing the negotiations, would not elaborate on the contents of the draft.

Negotiators emerged from a late-night meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius with signs that a deal was getting close.

The last draft accord, released Thursday night, did not resolve several key issues, including how rich and developing countries would share the burden in fighting global warming.


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