Obama, Xi agree in phone call to strive for climate deal

Xi (left) and Obama at the White House in September 2015.
Xi (left) and Obama at the White House in September 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS, AFP) – US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed during a late-night phone call that their negotiating teams would work together closely to reach an "ambitious" climate deal at international talks in Paris, the White House said.

“Following his productive calls earlier this week with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and Presidents (Francois) Hollande and (Dilma) Rousseff, President Obama spoke by phone last night with President Xi Jinping of China to coordinate efforts at the ongoing Paris climate conference,” a White House statement said.

“Both leaders agreed that the Paris conference presents a crucial opportunity to galvanise global efforts to meet the climate change challenge,” it continued.

“They committed that their negotiating teams in Paris would continue to work closely together and with others to realize the vision of an ambitious climate agreement.”

Xi and Obama both attended the UN summit’s opening ceremony on Nov 30.

China’s foreign ministry said that Xi had pressed for the two governments to “strengthen coordination with all parties” and “make joint efforts to ensure the Paris climate summit reaches an accord as scheduled.”

Xi was said to add that a deal would be beneficial to the international community.

A deal has yet to be reached at the gathering, but sleep-starved envoys tasked with stymying catastrophic climate change aim to wrap up a historic accord on Saturday after a second all-night session of talks.

China and the US are the world’s two largest carbon emitters, though China is estimated to have released nearly twice as much as the United States and around two and a half times the European Union.

The Asian giant pledged last year to peak carbon dioxide output by “around 2030” – suggesting at least another decade of growing emissions.

“We still have some distance to cover before reaching our final deal, and some key issues remain unresolved,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying Friday.

“Developed countries should play the leading role and make greater efforts,” she said, while calling upon all participant countries to “show their flexibility” and “narrow differences.”