Ministers start second week of climate talks with renewed urgency

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With a five-day deadline to clinch a deal looming and central issues in a draft text still unresolved, climate talks in Paris were expected to get a political push as ministers joined negotiators near Paris on Monday.

A draft put forward Saturday lays out potential options, in some cases underscoring the breadth of difference that still need to be bridged.

The head of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, weighed in on some of the thorniest issues during an opening speech, calling for a single mechanism to make sure every country lives up to its promises to limit carbon emissions.

“Developed countries must agree to lead, and developing countries need to assume increasing responsibility in line with their capabilities,” Ban said, referring to language in the text referring to climate financing.

Finance has been one of the most difficult in negotiations, with many emissions plans dependent on a 100-billion-dollar-per-year climate fund that is due to be supplied by developed countries by 2020.

“For India, it is a question of present and future lives of our 1.27 billion people with aspirations to develop,” said Indian Environment Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar at the end of the first week. “India is here to ensure that rich countries pay back their debt for overdraft that they have drawn on the carbon space.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is overseeing the talks, said an initial final draft should be ready for review by Wednesday, adding that due to procedural issues it had to be finalized on Thursday before the deadline of Friday afternoon.

Under pressure, leaders sharpened their calls for an agreement. Hoesung Lee, head of the IPCC international climate science body, warned that the planet could already warm by 1 degree by the end of the year.

“If we carry on like this, we risk increasingly severe and irreversible impacts: rising seas, droughts and floods, food and water shortages, to name just a few,” said UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

“But we know how to tackle climate change and we have the means.
The longer we wait, the harder and more expensive it will be to overcome.”

Fabius said discussions will begin immediately on key issues, including the long-term goal.

While oil-rich countries have blocked a goal of a 1.5-degree global average temperature goal and others only support a 2-degree goal, low-lying island nations have upped the urgency of their statements.

“Our future is already bleak,” said Enele Sosene Sopoaga, the prime minister of the island of Tuvalu. “We must urgently cut greenhouse gases. Every temperature increase beyond 1.5 will spell the total demise of Tuvalu and other low-lying island nations.”

“If we save Tuvalu, we save the world.”

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