More than 150 heads of state and government, including US President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, are gathering in France in a bid to thrash out a new deal to curb greenhouse gases.
With the United Nations conference on climate change set to get underway in Paris Monday, senior negotiators from almost 200 nations already began discussions over the weekend.
To signal determination to resolve the most intractable issues, expert negotiators sat down on Sunday rather than after Monday’s high-level speeches, as originally planned, Reuters reported.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the aim is to give the world the means to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times or even 1.5 degrees.
That would avoid the most devastating consequences of global warming, such as rising sea-levels and desertification.
Referring to previous UN conferences that have dragged on days beyond the official close, Fabius said relying on “a last-night miracle” could risk failure, and that progress must be made every day.
“The process cannot be chaotic. We owe it to ourselves and to the world to conclude the process in an orderly and respectful manner,” he was quoted as saying.
France formally takes on leadership of the UN process for a year from Monday.
Governments hope the Paris summit will end on Dec. 11 in a deal that will herald a shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energies such as wind or solar power.
The most difficult issues include working out how to share the burden of taking action between rich and poor nations, how to finance the cost of adapting to global warming and the legal format of any final text.
In related news, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will launch a multi-billion-dollar clean energy research and development initiative on Monday, the opening day of the UN climate change summit.
Gates and a group of developing and developed countries will agree to double their R&D budgets to boost clean energy deployment and work collaboratively, according to GreenWire, an energy and climate trade publication.
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