New, shorter draft of climate accord released

Paris: A new shorter draft incorporating many key issues raised by India like "sustainable lifestyle" was unveiled after intense negotiations here as the crucial climate change conference enters into the final stretch of talks.

The 27-page draft, two pages shorter than a previous one, was released yesterday after two days of ministerial consultations and incorporates major progress as well as differences.

The draft presented by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius includes key issues which India has raised like "sustainable lifestyle", principles based on equity and common but differentiated responsibilities as is there in the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"On the eve of the stated end of our conference, we can move to a decisive step to reach a final agreement. I am submitting a new draft to you (nations)," Fabius said. "I would like you (nations) to look at the document in a new perspective with final agreement in mind.

We want an agreement. We are extremely close to finishing line. Is time to come to an agreement," Fabius said. However various environmental groups said that what has appeared in the draft "is not good enough" and the clock is ticking as the ministers need to resolve the final outstanding issues.

The fresh draft negotiating text is now under deliberation by the ministers to reach a UN accord to curb green house gas emissions. "The document is slightly shorter. There are some brackets. Some complex issues still remain brackets like finance, differentiation and ambition which needs to be discussed in the coming hours," Fabius said.

The draft was circulated to nations at one of the session which was convened here late in the night. Nations are presently having hectic parleys which might go till early morning here to sort out the key issues.

India has earlier attacked the developed countries for adopting "extravagant" lifestyles compared to its "need based consumption" and has been asserting that that only "sustainable" lifestyles can mitigate the climate change challenge.

Sources in the Indian government said that although many issues raised by the country have found a place, there are still some issues that needed to be worked out. Terming yesterday's meeting as an "important" one, Fabius said that each party was able to express its opinion about the draft and the interventions were useful to clarify the detail of the text.

"It was a long and intensive night of work. This allowed us to make progress," Fabius said, adding that it was convened to seek "landing zones" for the final agreement. Fabius said that on the basis of the progress made he would be able to present the proposal for a final text.

Meanwhile, commenting on new draft text, Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace said what was on the table wasn't good enough. "It's a very big problem that the emissions targets on the table will not keep us below 1.5 degrees of warming and this draft deal does absolutely nothing to change that.

Right now we're witnessing a display of international impotence," Kaiser said. "This text should say that countries have to come back soon with better numbers but instead it kicks that can down the road, saying we'll sort it in ten or fifteen years.

That's too late, they're closing the door on our best chance to dodge dangerous warming," he said. Still others maintained that the current draft could have been stronger, but the door is still open to increase ambition over time. "The clock is ticking and ministers need to resolve the final outstanding issues.

Critically, we could be closer to an agreement on a review of country pledges before 2020, but the current 2019 timeframe leaves very little time for countries to enhance those pledges," said Tasneem Essop, WWF's head of delegation to the UN climate talks in Paris.

"They need to do it earlier. There is still a lot of work ahead. There is a huge problem with the options for loss and damage in the current text. The current options provide no hope for people who will suffer the impacts of climate change the hardest," Essop said.

He said that the negotiating text now includes a goal of keeping us well below 2 degrees Celsius of warming, and a reference to a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature limit. "That's encouraging because it signals a stronger intention to cut emissions ¿ although countries still need to outline how they'll achieve these goals," he added.

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