Climate talks move slowly

Updated: 2015-12-10 11:06

By LAN LAN in Paris(

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The United Nations climate change talks in Paris moved one step forward on Wednesday as a new draft negotiating text was put on the table.

However, significant work remains for the last two days of the conference.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate and head of the Chinese delegation, said at a plenary on Wednesday that the outcome is an "open and balanced" text, which is "a starting point" for further discussions, and more landing zones needed to be found. The draft is shorter than one released on Dec 5. The previous 49-page text is now 29 pages, including a draft agreement and a draft decision. More than two thirds of the 900 brackets and options in the previous version were cut.

However, major differences remain on key issues, including "differentiation, financing and ambition," said Xie.

"On the basis of the draft outcome, ministers need to strengthen discussions to find solutions for having the three fundamental issues resolved, if so, the agreement will be reached," said Xie.

China will discuss the draft with the unity of Group 77 and fellow members of the BASIC countries group - Brazil, South Africa and India - as well as developed countries to help ensure a successful outcome, said Xie.

The long-term goal is a sticking point in negotiations. Countries hold different opinions on whether the increase in the global average temperature should below 1.5 degrees Celsius or well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that the US has joined the "high ambition coalition" group, about 100 countries including the European Union, which was unveiled on Tuesday. Tony De Brum, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, said the group demands the final deal includes recognition of the proposed 1.5-degree goal, a clear pathway for a low-carbon future, a five-year review cycle and a climate finance package.

Brazil's Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said on Thursday at a press conference that the BASIC countries are discussing this issue and will present a joint position on it.

However, observers said even the 2-degree goal urges all parties to accelerate their efforts. The global economy needs to cut its carbon intensity by 6.3 percent per year from now to 2100 to prevent global warming in excess of 2 degrees, according to PwC’s latest low carbon economy index 2015. Global carbon intensity fell by an average of 1.3 percent per year from 2000 to 2014 and at this rate the 2-degree carbon budget will be spent by 2036.

China is the best-performing non-EU country among the G20 economies with a decarbonisation rate of 6 percent in 2014, according to the index. Tasneem Essop, WWF’s head of delegation to the UN climate talks in Paris, said the ministers haven’t taken the hard decisions yet.

"Ministers need to close existing loopholes to make sure any pre-2020 review and ratcheting up mechanism is comprehensive - covering adaptation, finance and emissions reductions - and does not let some countries off the hook," said Essop.