Divisions remain in finalizing draft for climate pact

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Flags of participating countries are displayed inside the COP 21 venue on Nov. 30. [Photo by Zhao Lisha/China.org.cn]

Huge divisions among different countries over a new global climate agreement remained on Friday as negotiators from nearly 200 countries prepared to wrap up their work in finalizing a draft for the agreement.

Following a week-long discussion in a United Nations climate conference in Paris, officials had two texts of the Paris agreement on Friday on the basis of which they have to hammer out a final draft by noon Saturday. Next week, government ministers will take over the floor and make decisions on issues that are not resolved.

Their task will not be easy. Despite being more concise in language and shorter in pages than previous versions, the texts on Friday showed that countries remained divided in various issues, many of them were highly sensitive and only expected to see a breakthrough at the 11th hour.

To reach a deal, developed countries must make it clear how they are going to scale up their finance support to developing countries after 2020 from 100 billion U.S. dollars per year, a target which rich countries promised in 2009 but never met.

The United States and European Union were reluctant to put any figure on the money they are willing to provide after 2020, when the Paris agreement comes into force, and prefer to use vague language in the agreement.

They also wanted other developing countries "in position to do so" to join the so-called "donor base", an attempt being strongly rejected by developing countries.

"It will break the 'common but differentiated responsibilities' principle," said Gurdial Singh Nijar, Lead Spokesperson for Like-Minded Developing Countries, a negotiating group compose of over 20 developing countries which includes China, India and Malaysia.

"It (negotiating Paris agreement) is not about to give reinterpretation to some of the fundamental provisions and principles of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but to enhance the implementation of Convention," Nijar said, referring to an international treaty which obliges developed countries to take the lead in cutting emissions and providing finance support to developing countries.

"Finance is one issue that will keep up next week to the ministers," said Kelly Dent, Oxfam's global climate lead.

Other sticky issues include differentiation in emission reduction, how to deal with loss and damage caused by extreme events related to climate change, transparency of action and support and a "ratchet mechanism" to help increase global action against climate change.

"We are not there yet," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, "I sincerely hope that the spirit of compromise will make it possible for us to make progress."

"It is my hope that the text will be given to me tomorrow which is as finalized as possible," he said, "My desire is to see the maximum number of concrete solutions".

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