France signals 'breakthrough' in climate talks

PARIS • France has signalled a "breakthrough" at 46-nation talks in Paris paving the way for a highly anticipated climate rescue pact to be inked in December.

Ministers and top officials at an informal gathering on Tuesday reached consensus on several issues that have frustrated the official negotiations for years, France's top climate negotiator Laurence Tubiana told journalists.

Crucially, they concurred there should be a regular, five-yearly review, once the agreement kicks in, of the collective effort to curb planet-warming greenhouse gases.

"This is a breakthrough," said Professor Tubiana. "That was not ob-vious to get."

The political signal emerging from the Paris talks will now filter down and, hopefully, ease the jo2b of rank-and-file negotiators for the 195 countries crafting a historic global agreement.

NEED TO DO MORE

Today, with the agreement we see taking shape, we are still above 2 deg C, and, probably, three.

MR FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, French President

The Paris talks were not part of the official negotiations and fewer than a quarter of countries were directly represented.

But all the world's top greenhouse gas emitters, apart from Russia, were represented, as were recognised negotiating blocs.

Foreign Minister Tony de Brum from the Marshall Islands, one of the small island states that are at the highest risk of climate change- induced sea level rise, welcomed the progress.

He said: "The French initiative to engage ministers early and often is a clever one. It's a move that will help to ensure success in Paris."

The pact is to be finalised at a United Nations conference in Paris later this year. Its goal will be to limit average global warming to 2 deg C over pre-Industrial Revolution levels. It will be supported by a roster of voluntary national pledges.

But scientists said those already submitted indicate that the world will badly miss the 2 deg C target, which is considered the threshold for disastrous impacts.

France's President Francois Hollande, speaking at a separate Summit of Conscience for the Climate in Paris on Tuesday, insisted an ambitious agreement "must be found". He said: "Today, with the agreement we see taking shape, we are still above 2 deg C, and, probably, three."

But a viable deal would mean "forsaking the use of 80 per cent of fossil-based energy resources to which we still have easy access", he added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2015, with the headline 'France signals 'breakthrough' in climate talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe