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World awaits historic climate agreement in Paris

Patrick Kovarik / AFP | French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius (R) greets Marshall Islands' Foreign Affairs minister Tony deBrum (L) in his office during the COP 21 United Nations Conference on climate change, on December 10, 2015 at Le Bourget, n

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius presented Saturday what he called an "ambitious and equitable" agreement that if adopted would be an "historic turning point" to keeping temperature rises well below 2 degrees Celsius.

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Flanked by French President François Hollande and UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, Fabius said to loud applause that the deal seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, if possible.

"The agreement is the most balanced one possible," Fabius told heads of delegations at the end of two weeks of marathon discussions. "It allows each delegation to return to their home country with their heads held high".

Another major debate has been over a promise that developed nations should provide $100 billion to help poorer nations deal with the consequences of climate change. Fabius said the draft text would set that figure as a floor by 2020.

The draft document also agrees to review progress every five years.

The document was given to the 196 parties at the COP21 with a view to the "legally binding" deal being adopted on Saturday afternoon.

Ban admitted it had been a "difficult" negotiation, but that the end was within reach.

'Chaotic' talks

A UN official who wished to remain anonymous told FRANCE 24 that the conference had been a smooth one, until the final two days, which had turned into "among the most chaotic I have ever seen". 

Speaking after Fabius and Ban, President Hollande made an emotional plea for countries to adopt the text.

The Socialist president said he would be both "personally happy" and "proud" if the first universal climate treaty in history was signed by all nations in the French capital.

"There are few opportunities to change the world," Hollande told delegates. "You have that opportunity."

With 2015 forecast to be the hottest year on record, world leaders and scientists have warned that an accord is vital for capping rising temperatures and averting the most catastrophic consequences of a shifting climate.

If climate change goes unabated, scientists warn of increasingly severe droughts, floods and storms, as well as rising seas that would engulf islands and populated coasts.

Rally by the Eiffel Tower

In Paris, several thousand people gathered for a pro-climate rally on Champ de Mars, forming a human chain by the city’s iconic Eiffel Tower.

“There’s a certain degree of anger and defiance among the protesters [here],” FRANCE 24’s Oliver Farry reported from the ground, noting that the protest is one of only a handful of rallies that authorities have granted permission to go ahead as France remains under a state of emergency following the November 13 attacks.

“There’s definitely a sense that the people here are not entirely convinced by the agreement that was announced earlier on,” he said.

For the full text of the deal, click here

Pro-climate rally in Paris

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