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article imageDraft text for global climate deal due by end-October: official

By Richard Ingham (AFP)     Jun 11, 2015 in Environment

Another round of UN climate talks wrapped up on Thursday after making little headway towards producing a text for a worldwide pact due in just six months' time.

After 11 days of wrangling by negotiators, the co-chairs of the 195-nation process said they had been asked to take matters in hand.

In the coming months, they will strive to boil down a sprawling document to a set of manageable options ahead of a November 30-December 11 climate conference in Paris.

"You will have by the end of October the draft package," co-chairman Ahmed Djoghlaf of Algeria told journalists, referring to a core political agreement backed by a set of technical decisions.

The Paris accord is supposed to unite the world behind an endeavour to save future generations from disastrous climate change.

The draft coalesces around the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

That is a figure scientists say offers a good chance of avoiding catastrophic damage to Earth's climate system and a future darkened by ever-worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.

Taking effect from 2020, the accord will be enacted by voluntary national pledges to curb greenhouse gases -- the emissions, mainly from fossil fuels, that are driving the warming phenomenon.

But beyond the 2 C target and the roster of carbon pledges, the draft text is laden with wide and politically explosive differences.

They include clauses on how to ratchet up pledges, through regular reviews, to ensure Earth is on track for 2 C.

Christiana Figueres  Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Chang...
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), attends the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) opening ceremony in Bonn, western Germany on June 1, 2015
Patrik Stollarz, AFP/File

Also undetermined is how rich countries will muster $100 billion (88 billion euros) annually in climate aid for poor countries.

Even the agreement's legal status remains undecided.

Thorny issues like these will be left to ministers or heads of state or government to settle.

But veterans of the 23-year climate process say the high-stakes bartering is only feasible if politicians are handed a manageable text.

In Bonn, negotiators crawled over a text of nearly 90 pages that combined every national viewpoint.

They weeded out areas of duplication and strengthened areas of agreement, succeeding in reducing the volume by about 10 percent.

But they did not address any of the big issues.

Susann Scherbarth, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said the Bonn round and Group of Seven (G7) summit in Bavaria last weekend had delivered tone but no substance.

"G7 countries have signalled their agreement on the importance of tackling climate change eventually, but haven’t announced any meaningful action," said Scherbarth.

"The emission cuts they've promised are less than half of what climate science recommends and justice requires. We are on the path to a disastrously empty deal in Paris this December."

- Importance of trust -

Others, though, cautioned against doom.

Concretely, the talks may have under-achieved and time may be short, but goodwill -- the vital lubricant that makes a deal -- remains strong, they said.

"It's a process of trust-building, and once you've got the trust, you've got some capital and you can start spending it," said Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), a US think tank.

"The wheels are still on the wagon and they may even be starting to accelerate."

Negotiations in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) remain scarred by a near-bustup at the 2009 summit in Copenhagen -- the last time the world community strove to forge a climate treaty.

Since then, the mood has been for consensus rather than confrontation, although scientists and many observers fear the outcome may be too timid.

A string of meetings has recently been added to the already crowded climate agenda in the run-up to Paris.

The programme includes ministerial talks in Paris on July 21-22 and September 7; more negotiations in Bonn from August 31 to September 4 and October 19-23; and the UN General Assembly in September, when leaders will gather.

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