Some 195 represented countries have made a final push to reach a deal this weekend aimed at averting catastrophic climate change. Divisions remain over how to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he would submit a proposed final agreement on Saturday morning, declaring himself “sure” it would be adopted.
“Everything is in place to achieve a universal, ambitious accord,” said Fabius, who is presiding over the talks that have stretch for two weeks. “Never again will we have a more favorable momentum than in Paris.”
The agreement would seek to revolutionize the world’s energy production by cutting back or potentially eliminating coal and fossil fuels to be replaced with renewable energy from solar and wind.
If consensus is reached, it would be the first time that all the world’s nations collectively pledge to reduce their heat-trapping greenhouse emissions in order to keep earth from heating up causing violent weather, famine and otherwise inhospitable conditions for billions of people and animals.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with a series of possible holdouts including the three largest polluters – China, US and India – as well as South Africa, oil-rich Venezuela, Kuwait, Singapore, Australia and Bahrain.
Final push for 11th hour deal
Ahead of the talks, most nations submitted voluntary plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions from 2020. But scientists say that, even if the cuts were fulfilled, they would still put earth on track for warming of at least 2.7 Celsius.
Countries most vulnerable to climate change have also lobbied hard to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
Some of the scientists at the forum caution that political considerations are trumping technical realities.
The negotiations don’t take into account what emissions cuts are needed to limit warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research in Germany. “The politics simply leave it out of the equation,” he said.
Several big polluters, such as China and India as well as oil producing-giant Saudi Arabia, prefer a ceiling of 2 Celsius, which would allow them to burn fossil fuels for longer.
Other open-ended questions included financial help for developing countries. The EU and US want wealthier emerging economies to help, but many reject the proposal. Western industrialized countries, they say, bear the historic responsibility for a century and a half of burning fossil fuels.
jar/bw (AFP, AP, dpa)