Final draft of Paris climate deal ready for adoption: French hosts

The slogan "Climate action" is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris, France, on Dec 11, 2015.
The slogan "Climate action" is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris, France, on Dec 11, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

LE BOURGET, France (AFP) - French and United Nations officials completed an edit early on Saturday (Dec 12) of the final draft to be presented to ministers for adoption, conference host France said in the early hours of Saturday (Dec 12) morning, after nearly two weeks of tough haggling for a climate rescue pact between bureaucrats and ministers that ran deep into extra time.

"We have a text to present," an official in the office of Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who presides over the 195-nation talks, told AFP.

French and UN officials have completed a line-by-line edit of an historic agreement that seeks to brake global warming and ease its impacts.

After translation into the UN's six official languages, the document will be presented to ministers at 11.30am local time (6.30pm Singapore time), nearly 16 hours after the conference had been scheduled to close.

And it was hoped the text will be adopted at a special session on Saturday afternoon.

It means the years-long quest for a universal pact to avert catastrophic climate change is nearing the finish line.

Mr Fabius said Friday he was "sure" the project would succeed.

"Everything is in place to achieve a universal, ambitious accord," said 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.

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.

The Paris talks have largely been free of the fierce arguments that plagued previous United Nations 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 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.

Seeking to break the deadlock, US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping spoke by telephone.

"They committed that their negotiating teams in Paris would continue to work closely together and with others to realise the vision of an ambitious climate agreement," the White House said.

Mr Obama spoke earlier in the week with the leaders of India and 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.

At the sprawling venue at Le Bourget, negotiators were feeling the effects of the marathon talks.

"We're all tired and we've become much less diplomatic," said Mr Espen Ronneberg, a finance negotiator for the Pacific island nation of Samoa.

"Instead, we just go straight to the point. Some people don't even say hello anymore, they just nod their heads."

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 US$100 billion (S$141 billion) 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.

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 2.7 deg C.

Nations most vulnerable to climate change have lobbied hard for wording in the Paris pact to limit warming to 1.5 deg C.

But big polluters, such as China, India and oil producing-giant Saudi Arabia, prefer a ceiling of 2 deg C, which would allow them to burn fossil fuels for longer.