LE BOURGET (France) • Negotiators tasked with saving earth's climate system embarked yesterday on an 11-day race to shape a labyrinthine 54-page text into a blueprint that can be approved by Dec 11.
A day after world leaders pledged to tame global warming, bureaucrats from 195 nations scrambled to overcome the decades-long disputes over how to solve the global crisis.
The goal - endorsed ringingly by around 150 heads of state and government at the start of the talks on Monday - is to commit every nation to a post-2020 pact to roll back emissions of carbon gases.
Scientists have long warned that time is short for weaning humanity off its dependence on burning fossil fuels, the backbone of the world's energy supply and biggest source of these heat-trapping emissions.
But, heaping pressure on negotiators, researchers for the respected group Climate Action Tracker said yesterday the clock was now ticking even faster than before.
If planned new coal-fired plants come onstream, they said, the added emissions would wreck hopes of meeting the UN target of curbing warming to 2 deg C from pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
"There is a solution to this issue of too many coal plants on the books: Cancel them," said Mr Pieter Van Breevoort of Ecofys, an energy research organisation which is part of Climate Action Tracker. "Renewable energy and stricter pollution standards are making coal plants obsolete around the world, and the earlier a coal plant is taken out of the planning process, the less it will cost."
The talks, taking place in a heavily secured conference centre at Le Bourget on the northern outskirts of Paris, headed into the detail phase after the verbal flourishes of Monday, when around 150 leaders gathered for the biggest one-day summit in UN history.
"Never have the stakes of an international meeting been so high, because it concerns the future of the planet, the future of life," French President Francois Hollande said in an opening speech.