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Fabius presents new draft ahead of climate deal deadline

Dominique Faget , AFP | French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius takes part in a plenary session at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in Le Bourget, outside Paris, on December 9, 2015

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday presented a new draft UN agreement on climate change at the COP 21 conference as international negotiations sped toward a Friday deadline.


special correspondent at the COP 21 climate conference

Fabius, who is also presiding over the key UN summit, handed the 29-page document just after 3 p.m. (1400 GMT) to the 196 parties gathered for talks at Le Bourget convention centre outside Paris, two hours after the draft was originally expected.

"The text is not the final version, and it may contain some misinterpretations," Fabius told country delegates who gathered in the plenary hall, "but it represents a step forward".

Negotiators now have two days left to make their final mark-ups and hammer out a final deal to help keep global temperatures from rising above levels that scientists warn could have catastrophic results for the planet.

Fabius said much progress had been made in the areas of adaptation and mitigation, which would allow negotiators to concentrate their efforts on the concept of "losses and damages".

Adaptation refers to the money used to help poorer countries deal with the immediate effects of climate change, while mitigation refers to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He said that more progress was needed , especially in the areas of differentiation, finance and the overall ambition of the final agreement. Differentiation means climate action demands made on countries can vary according to each country's resources.

A new round of negotiations was scheduled to start at Le Bourget as early as 8 p.m.

Vague language

Kaisa Kosenen, a campaigner and spokeswoman with Greenpeace, worried that language about long-term goals in the new text had become more vague.

The goal to achieve "zero global greenhouse gas emissions between 2060-2080" had been replaced with "by end of the century or by mid-century," she noted.

Kosenen said there had been little progress in defining "ratcheting-up mechanisms" that would require countries to quickly improve their individual commitments in the short term. "That is still the big question," she told FRANCE 24.

Armelle Le Comte, a campaigner with Oxfam, said she was encouraged to see that a quantified financial package post-2020 was still on the table, but worried that no consensus had been reached with so little time left.

US adds $400 million

Earlier on Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States would double its public grants for climate adaptation by the year 2020.

American officials confirmed the US budget for adaptation would increase from around $430 million in 2014 to more than $800 million in the next five years.

The increase would not come at the cost of Washington's existing climate commitments, and would go toward such projects as protecting mangrove forests and improving local weather forecasts, the AFP reported.

Kerry said the US stood with other world leaders who understood the urgency of reaching an agreement "in the next 36 to 48 hours".

"If any challenge requires global cooperation and robust diplomacy, it's climate change", Kerry said. "Unless the global community takes bold steps now, we will be facing unthinkable harm... potentially to life itself".

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