As it happened: Paris climate pact edged closer on Thursday

With two days to go until 195 countries are set to finalise a global warming pact, divisions over ambition, finance and fairness remain

Updates from Megan Darby and Ed King in Paris – all times CET


0105 – We’re going to wrap up now. It’s been a long day, with intense negotiation behind closed doors. The French presidency has clearly slimmed down the options, but whether countries can embrace that version remains to be seen. Here’s our snapshot on the latest version.

Negotiations will continue through the night. We’ll be back in the morning with more news and analysis from Le Bourget. What does greenhouse gas emissions neutrality mean? Is the finance offer sufficient? Can rich and vulnerable countries find common ground on loss and damage?

0029 – Reaction to the latest text has been broadly positive, but twitter critics pose some concerns:

0021 – Tony de Brum, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands and driving force of the “high ambition coalition” has sent a statement. He seems to accept a middle ground on the temperature goal, somewhere between 1.5C and 2C.

He says: “This text is a good attempt to work through some of the options toward finding landing zones. It forces countries to fight for what they really need to see in the final Agreement.

“There is a clear recognition that the world must work towards limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that it would be much safer to do so. With this, I would be able to go home and tell my people that our chance for survival is not lost.

“The language on emissions neutrality sends a clear signal that the world will rapidly bend the emissions curve and phase out fossil fuels by the end of this century. Governments and businesses across the world would know that renewable energy is unquestionably the new game in town.

“The text maintains 5-year updates, starting in 2020, as we’ve been arguing and as is supported by our new High Ambition Coalition. Critical this is maintained. Anyone that seeks to water this down is irresponsible and not committed to urgent climate action.”

0018 – …or not, because it’s closed to observers and press. We’re really getting into the sensitive territory now.

0003 Friday – It’s midnight in Paris and the mood is high. The “indaba” or main meeting is due to start any moment. We’ll find out what countries think of the latest text.

2230: Here’s some reaction from civil society in Paris… fairly positive stuff

Nat Keohane, EDF: “Although key elements of the agreement are still in play, this new draft text is further proof that the Paris talks are building a strong, durable agreement. We can see an agreement in sight. Impressive progress has been made.

Helen Szoke, Oxfam Executive Director: “In a big win for developing and vulnerable countries, the draft has affirmed the need to set quantified funding goals for both climate change mitigation and adaptation for the years after 2020. This is a very encouraging development and we strongly urge negotiators to keep this in the final agreement. The only caveat is that no firm target for funds meant to help vulnerable people adapt to climate change has been identified.”

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid: “It’s great that we have widespread agreement on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, but it’s useless without a way of getting there. Without an ambition mechanism we only have enough fuel to drive ourselves half way to our destination. For a review and resubmission process to be worth anything we need the review part to happen sooner rather than later. That’s why we must have a big political moment in 2018 where countries will be brought back to the table and forced to ramp up their climate action.”

2130: With twitter there’s little need to actually read the text yourself. You could. It’s just 27 pages. But if you follow the right people… here’s a selection of those *in the know*.

Options open on differentiated nature of commitments and transparency. #COP21 — Ruth Davis (@ruthdavis27) December 10, 2015

2125: Early analysis seems positive (lengthwise at least)

2115 – Fabius says a new text is now available. Says envoys will have 2 hours to look at new text. Then countries will work in the ‘Indaba of solutions’ which starts at 1130pm. Each delegation will receive 3 badges only. 20151210_210739 Main issues are still differentiation, finance and ambition. Consultations have also taken place on loss and damage, the preamble and forests. Last night was a “long night of work… intensive” he says, but “this allowed us to make progress”.

“On the eve we can move to a decisive step. Submitting a new draft to you and you will be able to get that from the documents centre. This draft is slightly longer than the previous version,” he adds.

Countries will need to compromise, he stresses. “We want an agreement… we are close to the finishing line. We must find the responsibility for common ground. It’s time to come to an agreement.” The deal will be ambitious, fair and legally binding, he adds.

2100 – UPDATE: Main plenary has just convened. COP president Laurent Fabius about to speak…

1934 – The much-vaunted “high ambition coalition” is expanding and has hit the 100 countries mark, according to Marshall Islands foreign minister Tony de Brum, a driving force.

Still very much not on board is India. And Nitin Sethi of Delhi’s Business Standard is describing the whole business as a “sham”.

He notes it has no official status in the talks and not all the countries the coalition claims to represent have actively signed up. What is more, he accuses the US and EU of taking less ambitious stances behind closed doors.

1911 – Alex Pashley has been at Brazil’s daily press briefing. Lead envoy Antonio Marcondes says there are “more green lights than red lights at this juncture”, as all eyes turn to the next draft text.

On the old chestnut of “differentiation”, or how effort is shared between developing and developed countries, amending the original climate treaty – which stipulates countries deemed rich in 1992 must take the lead – is off the cards.

“To amend the convention there are specific procedures to do so and that is not happening,” Marcondes told reporters. “What we are trying to achieve is a new phase of the climate regime, in which they will be greater participation of countries in this endeavour.”

Brazil cannot forget the context in which negotiations play out, with “enormous social debts” of poverty and lacking infrastructure, he says. But some blurring of lines is inevitable.

1905 – The EU may like to think of itself as an ambitious leader, but NGOs are not convinced. They awarded the 28-state bloc “fossil of the day” for opposing reference to full decarbonisation of the global economy in a Paris text.

A regular feature of UN climate summits, it is a bit of theatre to shame those seen as obstructive to a strong deal.

Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe explained: “Lack of real leadership from the EU does not help us to get a meaningful agreement. The EU contradicts itself by putting up statements on the need for high ambition and at the same time opposing text on full decarbonisation and more emission reductions before 2020.

“If EU leaders want an ambitious Paris agreement, which will speed up the ongoing transition towards renewable energy, they need to advocate for additional emission cuts before and after 2020, in the context of a phase out of all emissions.”

1857 – Keeping us all in suspense, the French presidency are not now expected to release a revised text until 9 or 10pm. It’s going to be a long night for negotiators.

1736 – At a press briefing from green business advocates, the emphasis is on getting a clear long term goal. “We want a signal that clearly says we are going to decarbonise economies as soon as possible,” says Nicolette Bartlett, from the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group.

Following the news that 114 major companies have agreed to cut their emissions in line with a 2C warming limit, Climate Home asked what if Paris plumps for 1.5C?

“Once we have a clear signal and an agreement from the governments, we will of course be recalibrating those [targets],” says Damandeep Singh of CDP India, which was involved in coordinating the pledges.

1635 – Sean Paul has landed. Plus bowler hat and shades. The Jamaican dancehall star says he wants to help spread renewable energies across the world. Cos We Be Burning.

1630 – Rumours swirling around the conference centre on the status of the talks. Will we get a text later? And will the talks last all night?

The good news is a) Sean Paul is playing later (see 1030am post) and b) Francois Hollande and Narendra Modi have launched a book full of wise words. “Each of us can find inspiration in poems and philosophical and religious texts,” reads the joint foreword.

1552 – A representative of the president elect of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, says he endorses the inclusion of 1.5C in a Paris text, according to national media reports.

It’s another boost for an extraordinarily successful campaign by climate vulnerable countries, which has gained traction with civil society and leaders of major economies.

Behind closed doors, negotiators are less enthusiastic about tightening the warming limit from 2C, according to the campaign’s advisors. Some question whether it is feasible, as it requires rapid decarbonisation of the global economy.

1521 – At an EU press conference, commissioner Miguel Arias Canete goes big on the importance of a five-year review cycle.

“Without the five-year cycles, the agreement is meaningless,” he says. Whether the long term goal is a 2C or 1.5C warming limit, greater efforts will be needed to get there.

The latest available version of the text (which will be superseded in a few hours) “invites” countries to revisit their national commitments in 2018 or 2019, before the agreement comes into force. The EU wants “shall” – a stronger phrase.

Ambition can be ramped up “on a voluntary basis,” says Canete. “For sure” the European Parliament can raise its level.

China may choose to bring forward its peaking date for emissions from 2030, he adds, a matter of “the utmost importance to the world”.

1505 – Latest rumours around the halls (and there are many) suggest a new text will be out between 7-8pm tonight.

1430 – How strong is the White House’s flagship climate policy? It’s BULLETPROOF says Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’re seeing a sea change on climate change in terms of public opinion,” she tells Climate Home’s Alex Pashley. “No matter how the political whims may change, it is the law and it is going to stick.”

1420 – We are hearing a *new* text could come from the presidency as early as 3pm. A US source suggested (perhaps optimistically) it could even be a “penultimate” version.

Key issues, France president Francois Hollande told reporters earlier, include “compensation for loss and damage”.

Earlier this afternoon a Chinese official, speaking at the China pavilion, said a deal would come “at best” on Saturday.

Other big issues holding progress up?

Take your pick from: A temperature goal (1.5 or 2C), loss and damage, climate finance, a way to ramp up emission cuts over time and, critically, levels of trust between rich and poor countries.

1355 – Does anyone have $5 million in their back pocket? UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has called for a “final push” on funds for adaptation in Paris. There’s a 2014-2015 target of $80 million… with $75m currently banked. It may seem small fry compared to the vast sums of money talked about here – but support for countries preparing and coping with climate impacts is a hugely contentious issue.

“The announcements at the UN climate change conference by Germany, Italy, Sweden and Wallonia now put us in striking distance of that $80 million aim,” said Figueres. “I would call on others to come forward with the final support needed in order to register yet another success here in Paris towards the overall goal of a low emission, resilient world.”

1349 – Leading climate economist Lord Stern is speaking at the China pavilion, and he’s here with a strong warning to governments and business on their planning in the next few years.

“If we do [the transformation] badly, forget about 2C of warming, we’ll be to 3 or 4,” he says. “We’re going to have to go to zero global emissions by the end of the century… that is arithmetic – it’s not a political statement.”

And Stern, author of a seminal study of the economics of climate change in 2006, emphasises the damage dirty fuels are already doing to emerging economies.

“In China, 4000 a day are killed by air pollution. 13 or the top 20 most polluted cities are in India. If it’s 4000 a day in China, how many in India? It’s enough to regard this as a deep deep problem. Moving from fossil fuels or capturing emissions would carry enormous benefits.”


1330 – Former White House official Eliot Diringer reinforces rumours that the COP presidency might need to take a more muscular approach.

“We’re very quickly approaching the critical moment when the French need to force parties’ hands and get them to reveal their bottom lines. It’s a risky but necessary move.

“Although parties are still mostly just repeating their opening positions, they hopefully have landing zones in their heads that converge enough to produce a meaningful agreement. And hopefully the French will capture that convergence in the next text.

“Having earned strong trust from parties through a remarkably open and inclusive process, they now need to use that capital to force compromises.

1322 – There appears to be a fast-moving series of bilateral meetings taking place between major countries here in Paris. Here’s a brief take on what’s being discussed in the conference halls.

US secretary of state John Kerry gave a brief press conference outside the US pavilion. He says the US has had “positive” talks with India and ongoing discussions with Saudi Arabia are going well. Both countries heavily criticised the current proposed text at a meeting last night.

We’re also hearing Brazil’s environment ministry say political agreement “has been achieved”. It’s unclear what specifically they are referring to but Brazil is tasked here with fixing the difficult issue of differentiation – or how the roles of rich and poor countries are balanced in a global deal.

A small island states source told Climate Home they expect a new text today and smiled when asked if this could finish tomorrow. Finance and loss and damage are still major sticking points, and the views of negotiation outliers like Malaysia and Tuvalu on how these talks are moving are as yet unknown.

1253 – Lisa Frieman from Climatewire asks the Chinese and South African negotiators what they make of this “high ambition coalition” touted by the US, EU, African and island states – were they invited to join?

Alf Wills is scathing. “I hear in the press that this is an open-ended coalition, but they forgot to tell us what the contact details were,” he says.

“Even if we wanted to join, it’s a bit unclear what their plans are… I’ve seen negotiations through the press, which is a valid tactic I suppose, but they are certainly not discussing their proposals with anyone.”

South Africa considers itself “for ambition”, he adds.

Gao Feng agrees: “I feel exactly the same myself. We are receiving direction from Beijing, so it’s up to Beijing.”

1238 – A number of negotiators have made time to talk to the press about what is going on. They don’t seem altogether sure themselves.

China’s Gao Feng says there will be a deal, though, on Friday “or maybe Saturday”.

1110 – The Climate Action Network International group of NGOs are giving a press conference now, offering updates of what’s cooking. Key points below.

Alix Mazounie, CAN France: “If money is not on the table after 2020… it’s fine to have stuff happening outside but it’s not a substitute for money in a legal agreement. This means they won’t be able to shift to a clean energy path. This is not the time to let short term vested interests to take over the long term goal we need. If it requires heads of state coming in then so be it…”

Alex Hanafi, EDF: “On legal form… we need confidence that countries will do what they say they will do. We need to make sure double counting of emission reductions (two countries counting the same cuts) twice. If that language is locked in we’ll ensure there’s no cheating.”

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid: “We are on the brink of a strong deal… it’s down to the most vulnerable and developing to fight. Loss and damage, finance and an ‘ambition mechanism’ are the most important. We need the right hooks in an agreement… countries don’t act unless the eyes of the world are on them. If we don’t have a big political moment in 2018 there is no way we will be able to deliver on the 1.5C commitment. 

“A large part of the text is now based on self differentiation… that’s why as an environmental network we’re looking for real modalities so we can identify who the leaders and who the laggards are…. but we have a shorter, cleaner text than at any part of this process. Having the text we have now is actually progress.”

1100 – Finance is a *huge* issue here that needs to be resolved. We’re not just talking about the $100 billion promised to developing countries by 2020, but also a transformational commitment by major economies to redirect funding away from fossil fuels.

This briefing from the WRI is worth reading if you’re interested in the details of what’s on offer, and what needs to be delievered

“The New Climate Economy report found that between now and 2030, around $6 trillion a year in required infrastructure investments will need to be shifted to be low-emissions and resilient in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees. The deal at Paris needs to send a strong message to all investors – both public and private – to shift these trillions, including by calling for countries to reduce support for high emissions activities, like coal power”

1050 – Sorry for the updates delay. We are still recovering from Sean Paul news (below). But there are intriguing rumours blowing around the conference centre over what happens next.

Gerard Wynn has the story for Climate Home:

A common ploy by national hosts in the past has been to crack the final, critical issues in smaller groups of as few as five of the most relevant, affected or powerful countries.

That is a risky approach, for sure, given that UN agreements are made by consensus: nations are suspicious of having decisions forced upon them.

Most famously, the last major conference in Copenhagen in 2009 collapsed after the Danish hosts sprang upon a bad-tempered summit a surprise text, which they had composed themselves.

Given the lack of progress using that mass approach, the French hosts may now take control, and chair smaller groups of nations themselves, to clear the three main outstanding hurdles, on differentiation, finance and ambition.

That approach could help smooth differences, given that the three remaining problems are tangled, each depending on the other, and so may be best resolved by discussing in concert, rather than separately.

Such a new phase would be entirely in keeping with the process historically, rather than a cause for alarm, and given the harmonious atmosphere to date in Paris, could break the impasse.

1030 – Here’s a message from one of our generous sponsors, Philips, which has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2020:

“From 2007 until 2015, Philips expects to have reduced its carbon footprint by 40%, but wants to accelerate its emissions reductions and achieve carbon neutrality in the next five years. Philips plans to meet the goal through a multi-pronged attack on the way it uses energy, aimed to drive down energy consumption in its own operations by reducing energy use, logistics and business travel.”

1020 – Breaking news here in Paris is Jamaican rapper Sean Paul will be here today to talk about a ‘Song to the Earth’ he has put together. Those of a certain age and taste will recall his epic ‘We Be Burning’ song, replete with many, many women not wearing much and flame throwers. Which all seems very appropriate. Watch below.

1000 – Background briefings galore this morning. Here’s what one veteran observer who did not want to be named understands took place last night.

“54 countries spoke last night… but most did not say a lot. The G77, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia registered concerns. After that talks resumed… but there was effectively no progress overnight. I think today’s text will be cancelled. It has already lost us lots of time to produce and discuss.

“Fabius has a few options from here. He may say that we have tried inclusive discussions, and he could now start using his political capital to direct this process via bilaterals, small groups, on the basis that an inclusive process tried and failed. He could continue with this strategy until Fri morning.
“He would have to call a Comite de Paris [main meeting] this morning to say that; and would have to say it in public.”
Our source added that US president Barack Obama has spoken with China’s Xi Jinping; so there is action behind the scenes.

0945 – Now then. It’s now under 48 hours until the largest environmental agreement ever attempted is set to be finalised. Envoys from 195 countries worked throughout the night on a new text presented by the French presidency on Wednesday afternoon.

For a snazzy breakdown of the main changes in the new text, have a look at this Storify from Carbon Brief, who go through key elements one by one. We picked up reaction to the new draft from negotiators, observers and civil society, which you can read here.

France foreign minister and COP president Laurent Fabius said three issues remain outstanding: differentiation (between developed, developing and emerging economies), finance and the ambition of any deal, which refers to a temperature goal and a mechanism to ensure carbon cuts accelerate over time.

That’s *not* to say there’s no progress. Check this from the team at – it shows how the number of brackets in the text (which signify there’s no agreement on an issue) is falling fast.




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