World leaders to attend Paris climate deal talks

PARIS • At least 80 world leaders, including Mr Barack Obama, Mr Xi Jinping and Mr Narendra Modi, will attend a summit tasked with inking a global climate pact in Paris in December, France has announced.

Diplomats endorsed a 55-page draft of the proposed deal in Bonn last Friday after five days of negotiation. While negotiators were satisfied it reflected everyone's views, they admitted it was unwieldy.

The aim is to unite the world's nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change, with the goal of capping warming at 2 deg C over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

For the opening day on Nov 30, "we have already received 80 confirmations, including from the Presidents of the United States and China, and the Indian Prime Minister", French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told journalists in Paris on Tuesday.

The leaders of Britain, Germany, South Africa, Brazil and Canada have also accepted, he said.

The last attempt at sealing a global climate pact, in 2009, saw about 110 world leaders descend on a United Nations summit in Copenhagen for the two final days, only to leave frustrated when the negotiations collapsed.

"Together with President Francois Hollande, we decided to invite heads of state to attend the first day and not the end as in Copenhagen," said Mr Fabius.

This had been partly to blame for the failure, he added, "as the negotiators were waiting for heads of state to negotiate, and the heads of state failed to resolve anything".

This time round, "the idea is to provide a political impetus at the beginning" of the conference - which will see the leaders take turns to make statements.

Developing countries insist rich nations should lead the way in slashing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions, arguing they started polluting earlier.

They also want assurances of financing to help decarbonise their economies and shore up defences against climate-induced impacts - superstorms, drought, flood and rise in sea levels.

But industrialised nations balk at being saddled with a higher burden of responsibility.

And while the final pact will be supported by a roster of national pledges for curbing greenhouse gases, more than 150 commitments submitted to date still put Earth on track for warming of 3 deg C, scientists say.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'World leaders to attend Paris climate deal talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe