France says 'progress' made on climate pact

Environment and energy ministers made ‘progress’ in three days of talks to seek political convergence ahead of UN climate summit

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius (C), Peruvian Environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal (L) and Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres give a joint press conference in Paris on Nov. 10, 2015

More than 100 heads of state and government -- including US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi of India and Russia's Vladimir Putin -- will attend the conference, tasked with inking a pact to stave off dangerous levels of global warming.

A blueprint for that agreement has been prepared by rank-and-file diplomats, and will be signed by ministers at the end of the Conference of Parties (COP) in the French capital.

The deal will be underpinned by national pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels blamed for climate change.

The three-day ministerial "pre-COP," from Sunday to Tuesday, sought to identify areas of potential compromise on key issues still dividing nations, and so avoid a repeat of the 2009 Copenhagen summit which ended without a binding global pact.

Fabius said progress was made on the principle of five-yearly revision and continuous improvement of countries' climate-curbing pledges, and on the sensitive issue of climate finance from rich to developing nations.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres added: "It continues to be entirely possible to come to an agreement... despite all challenges in front of us."

The UN is seeking to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

But the global body said this week that the emission-cutting pledges submitted by countries so far set the stage for warming of closer to 3 C or more, amid a slew of new warnings of the dangers facing our planet.