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Countries struggle to reach final COP 21 agreement

© Martin Bureau, AFP | French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius works in his office during the COP 21 UN climate conference on December 10, 2015

Text by Joseph BAMAT , special correspondent at the COP 21 climate conference

Latest update : 2015-12-11

Negotiators gathered at the COP 21 climate conference in Paris are within reach of a final, historic deal, but remaining differences extended the talks into Saturday.

The deadline to reach an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avert catastrophic global warming was pushed into the weekend, after sleep-deprived negotiators worked until 6am (GMT+1) on Friday.

Standing alongside UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters he would be able to present a final text as early as 9 a.m. on Saturday and wrap up the show by noon.

However, a plenary session scheduled for Friday was abruptly cancelled, casting doubt on the new timetable.

A UN official told FRANCE 24 that it was likely that at least 90 percent of the agreement would be adopted in a plenary session on Saturday, and if there were any outstanding points, they would be placed in an appendix to be discussed at a future UNFCCC meeting.

Civil society groups that have been closely monitoring the negotiations at Le Bourget convention centre, said there was real progress in a few key areas of the discussions.

Many were pleased to see that the agreement would mention 1.5° Celsius as the ideal limit in warming compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels, although the reference to "well below 2° Celsius" had also been kept.

Advances were also reported in establishing a financial package for developing nations after the year 2020, although Japan and Switzerland expressed concern about committing to specific funds that far in the future.

Roadblocks remain

Sticking points nevertheless remained, with some officials saying the long night of negotiations had soured the mood between countries.

Saudia Arabia and Iraq - two of the world's largest oil producers - rejected including references to carbon pricing in the agreement, according to Matthieu Orphelin of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation. Putting a price tag on fossil fuel-related products is something Nordic countries, among others, hoped the world could make progress on.

Orphelin also told reporters that India and China had strenuously opposed periodic reviews that would require them to expand cuts to CO2 emissions.

Jeremy Pivor, of the US-based SustainUS group, accused US negotiators of "holding [the talks] hostage by trying to bury language about "compensation and liability" for the poorest countries.

Pivor said rejecting such language went against President Barack Obama's keynote speech in Paris two weeks ago, in which he called on countries to show solidarity with those most affected by climate change.

Date created : 2015-12-11

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