LE BOURGET, France (UPDATED) – The UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris has been extended by at least one day, according to French foreign minister and conference president Laurent Fabius.
This was his announcement at the end of a crunch-time meeting of country negotiators that ended around 5:40 am on Friday, December 11 – supposedly the last day of the landmark climate talks.
Fabius said the rest of the day would be spent talking to different groups of countries to build consensus on the remaining unresolved issues in the most recent draft agreement.
“Today, Friday, I will try to pull the pieces together and I will discuss [with] the different groups during the day. And I will be in a position to present a text which will be the final text tomorrow, Saturday morning [December 12],” he said.
After the release of the final draft, country delegations will have the time to pore over it and analyze it. By Saturday afternoon, a decision to adopt the agreement should be made, he said.
“We shall have to make our choice Saturday, midday. But we can accept this light and slight delay, but we have to stick to Saturday, midday or 2 o’clock,” he told heads of delegations, most of whom have not slept for the past 24 hours.
Fabius had been confident the climate talks would end on time, but he said he had no choice but to extend it.
“I think the work deserves to have this small delay otherwise we will be in a hurry and I won’t have time to consult your groups in the proper way,” he explained.
The latest version of the draft climate deal was released around 9 pm on Friday and was 27 pages long. Of that, there are 11 pages of the operative text.
Veteran Filipino negotiator and spokesman of the Philippine delegation Tony La Viña said countries have come a long way with this new version.
The operative text, now only 11 pages long, had been 21 pages last week, 50 pages in October, and 84 in February.
World leaders have described the Paris talks as the last chance to avert disastrous climate change: increasingly severe drought, floods and storms, as well as rising seas that engulf islands and populated coastal regions.
The planned accord would seek to revolutionize the world’s energy system by cutting back or potentially eliminating the burning of coal, oil and gas, which leads to the release of Earth-warming greenhouse gases.
UN efforts dating back to the 1990s have failed to reach a truly universal pact to contain climate change. – With a report from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com