Final push for draft climate agreement

BONN • Climate negotiators divided on how to fight global warming and who should foot the bill grappled one last time yesterday to finalise a draft agreement ahead of a crucial UN summit.

It was the final negotiating day before heads of state and government arrive in Paris for a Nov 30-Dec 11 conference tasked with sealing a climate deal. A pact would be the first to unite all the world's nations in an effort to rein in global warming and help vulnerable nations cope with its impact.

"The most difficult issues remain the same as before," the European Union's top climate negotiator, Ms Elina Bardram, said on Thursday, summing up the first four days of fraught talks in Bonn.

After more than two decades of negotiations, she said, it still boiled down to one fundamental disagreement: "How do you divide responsibilities between developed and developing countries?"

A stark reminder came as negotiators bickered when US scientists reported that the first nine months of this year had been the warmest on record worldwide.

Voluntary national pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions have gone part of the way towards the UN goal of capping warming at 2 deg C above the mid-19th century benchmark.

But how to fill the remaining "emissions gap" remains highly contentious, with developing countries reluctant to set more ambitious goals unless rich nations provide guarantees of finance.

Highlighting what is at stake, a study released yesterday said that melting ice threatens to further shrink the habitat of the snow leopard. As few as 4,000 of the mysterious animals could be left in their sole habitat in the high mountains of central Asia, the Swiss-based World Wildlife Fund said in its report.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline 'Final push for draft climate agreement'. Print Edition | Subscribe