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Paris Climate talks miss Friday deadline, China and oil countries want more leeway

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, President-designate of COP21 (R), and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attend a meeting during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 7, 2015
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, President-designate of COP21 (R), and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attend a meeting during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 7, 2015 REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

The signing of a historic accord meant to stave off catastrophic climate change, was pushed back from Friday to Saturday because of outstanding squabbles around finance and degree levels. Despite this, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius argues that negotiations are "on track."

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"Things are moving in the right direction," said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is presiding over the talks.

Releasing a fresh draft of the climate deal on Thursday night, Fabius insisted a deal was "extremely close."

Yet it missed its Friday deadline and will now be pushed back to Saturday morning if all goes well.

The Paris talks--billed as the planet's last chance to avert disastrous climate change--should have ended on December 11.

But eleven days after bruising international diplomacy in the French capital, ministers from the 195 nations are still worlds apart on figures.

The first flashpoint is climate finance and how to help developing nations adapt to climate change.

Rich countries promised six years ago in Copenhagen to muster $100 billion (92 billion euros) a year from 2020 to help them make the transition.

The latest text refers to the $100 billion as a floor, potentially triggering a last-minute backlash from the United States and other developed nations fearful of being forced to sign a blank cheque.

Furthermore, developing nations are demanding "loss and damage" provisions, which Washington is particularly wary of as it fears they could make US companies vulnerable to legal challenges for compensation.

Negotiators have less than 24 hours to resolve how to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars.

They also have to agree on what temperature they want to limit greenhouse gases to.

Nations most vulnerable to climate change had lobbied hard to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

However several big polluters, such as China and India as well as oil producing-giant Saudi Arabia, prefer a ceiling of 2C, which would allow them to burn fossil fuels for longer.

The latest draft offers a compromise that states the purpose of the agreement is to hold temperatures to well below 2C, but aim for 1.5C.

UN efforts dating back to the 1990s have failed to reach a truly universal pact to contain climate change. Even if Saturday's accord does go through, activists are concerned the measures won't be far reaching enough.

 

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