Global climate talks face last hurdles, deal seen in reach

PARIS,  (Reuters) – French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said yesterday that an ambitious global climate deal was within reach, though political concessions were still required to get over some last hurdles.
Fabius said he remained on track to present a final agreement on Saturday morning, a day later than planned, that could be adopted by consensus among the almost 200 countries negotiating in the French capital.
The last stumbling blocks were over money, specifically how to structure hundreds of billions of dollars in funding from rich nations to poor ones to help them adapt to climate change.
“Evidently, not everyone will obtain 100 percent of what they are asking,” Fabius told journalists as he emerged from discussions late yesterday.
“When there are 196 parties on such a complex subject, if everyone demands 100 percent, each and everyone will obtain zero percent,” he said. “We must have a spirit of compromise.”
Despite late-in-the-game delays and a frustrating night of talks late on Thursday, many participants said the momentum towards an agreement was unlikely to be crushed at this stage.
“There are some very strongly held views but I also think there is a spirit of compromise,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said as talks moved into Friday night, past the hour where Fabius had pledged to have the deal wrapped up.
The negotiators are trying to seal an agreement that would bind both rich and poor nations to cut rising greenhouse gas emissions.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called a 27-page draft text on the table “a good basis” for a deal to help avert more powerful storms, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels. “I appeal to all parties to take a final decision for humanity,” he said.

One of the last sticking points is over how to accommodate U.S. financial commitments. To help developing countries navigate the shift to a low-carbon economy, rich nations have promised to provide $100 billion in yearly funding by 2020.
Secretary of State John Kerry, the top American negotiator in Paris, says the United States remains committed to raising and mobilizing the billions for that pledge.
But the Obama administration cannot put financial pledges into a legally binding accord because such spending requires Congressional approval — a near impossibility given Republican hostility to any global agreement on climate change.
The U.S. refusal to do so has angered some developing countries who want to see the money enshrined in a deal.
Others said a compromise arrangement was still the most likely outcome.

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