Global warming deal takes shape with latest UN draft

Paper outlines options for goals of climate change deal to be sealed in December

LONDON • A global pact to fight climate change began to take shape after the United Nations published a new draft of a deal that envoys from 195 nations are working to seal at a year-end summit in Paris.

The 88-page document is meant to organise the options that negotiators were grappling with at last month's round of discussions in Bonn, Germany. The paper, published last Friday on the website of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), includes a 19-page draft of the deal, slimmed down from 85 in June.

"The progress we've made, both with the text and in informal talks, has put an agreement within reach," said the Maldives' Environment and Energy Minister Thoriq Ibrahim, who chairs the Alliance of Small Island States at high risk of climate change-induced sea-level rise.

Ms Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute think-tank in Washington said the streamlined text by two co-chairs of the discussions was a "strong foundation" for advancing the climate talks.

"The co-chairs have cut through the clutter to make the text more coherent, clarifying the key choices to be made," she commented.

CLEARER PICTURE

The co-chairs have cut through the clutter to make the text more coherent, clarifying the key choices to be made.

MS JENNIFER MORGAN, from the World Resources Institute, on the streamlined text

The document outlines options for the goals of the agreement and actions its signatories will take to cut fossil-fuel emissions blamed for heating the planet.

It also spells out measures to spread green technologies and funnel aid to the poorest nations to help them adapt to the effects of rising sea levels, increased droughts and more frequent flooding.

While the page-count is a crude measure, the length of the paper is viewed by international observers as an indication of whether nations are converging on a deal as juggling the demands of so many nations makes it hard to narrow options.

By contrast, a similar text spanned some 200 pages in the run-up to the failed last attempt to broker a global deal in Copenhagen in 2009.

There are only 10 official negotiating days before the Nov 30 to Dec 11 conference in Paris to seal the deal.

The document "presents a clearer picture of the possible final outcome, while not omitting any of the options put forward by the parties," said a statement by the secretariat of the UNFCCC, under whose auspices the negotiations take place.

In 2011, the UNFCCC's 195 member nations gave themselves until December this year to conclude a deal to protect earth from the ravages of extreme global warming.

The target is to prevent mean global temperatures from rising more than 2 deg C over pre-industrial levels, dating from about 1850.

Scientists note that at current greenhouse gas emission rates, the thermostat will rise by twice that much before century's end.

"Now that the co-chairs have done their job, it's up to negotiators and ministers to do theirs, by buckling down at their next round of meetings in early September and speeding up the pace of progress towards agreeing an ambitious, fair, and comprehensive climate deal in Paris," said Mr Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Last week, ministers and diplomats from 46 countries met informally in Paris to push things along.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'Global warming deal takes shape with latest UN draft'. Print Edition | Subscribe