LE BOURGET, France (UPDATED) – “Make final decisions for humanity.”
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, December 11, urged negotiators at the climate change conference in France to go beyond national interests to finally seal the deal on a global climate pact.
Speaking to reporters at the supposedly last day of the COP21 at the Le Bourget conference center, just outside Paris, Ban acknowledged that ministers and officials trying to hammer out the climate deal are still facing a tough night of negotiations.
“I have been attending many difficult multilateral negotiations, but by any standard, by far, this negotiation… is the most important for humanity,” Ban said.
The negotiations to have a legally-binding, universal agreement to curb global warming to below 2ºC (3.6ºF) – a product of more than two decades of political wrangling among the world’s nations – have finally come down to the wire, with the original Friday deadline moved to Saturday, December 12.
The UN’s top diplomat said some issues that still need to be thrashed out included how to share the burden of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions between rich and poor nations; how to finance the cost of climate change in developing countries; and how ambitious to be in curbing planetary overheating.
“This is not a moment of talking about national perspective. Good global solutions will help good local solutions,” Ban added.
There will be a deal, France vows
Despite this, host country France assured that there will be a deal at the end of COP21.
“We are almost at the end of the road and I am optimistic,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at the same news conference.
“Following the consultations I will have, I will be in a position tomorrow morning at 9 am (0800 GMT) to present to all parties a text, which, I am sure, will be approved and will be a big step forward for humanity as a whole,” he said.
Ministers and diplomats from 195 parties spent the night Thursday, December 10, in lengthy discussions over a new version of a draft agreement.
The new draft document, released at just past 9 pm Central European time (past 4 am Philippine time), is now just 27 pages long, and only has a total of 50 bracketed sections of text – items in the draft that are still under debate and could either be removed or retained in the final deal.
The discussions and consultations are expected to continue on overdrive, with sleep-deprived delegations again facing an entire night of meetings.
The Paris talks have largely been free of the fierce arguments that have plagued previous UN climate conferences.
But the biggest disputes over funding the climate fight, worth trillions of dollars over the decades to come, remain as potential deal-breakers in the draft document.
US, China call for ‘ambitious’ deal
Meanwhile, outside the conference halls, the leaders of the countries currently topping the carbon emissions lists – the United States and China – made a commitment to an “ambitious” climate deal.
“Following his productive calls earlier this week with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and Presidents (Francois) Hollande and (Dilma) Rousseff, President Obama spoke by phone last night with President Xi Jinping of China to coordinate efforts at the ongoing Paris climate conference,” a White House statement released Friday said.
“Both leaders agreed that the Paris conference presents a crucial opportunity to galvanize global efforts to meet the climate change challenge,” it continued.
“They committed that their negotiating teams in Paris would continue to work closely together and with others to realize the vision of an ambitious climate agreement.”
The Asian giant pledged last year to peak carbon dioxide output by “around 2030” – suggesting at least another decade of growing emissions.
“We still have some distance to cover before reaching our final deal, and some key issues remain unresolved,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying Friday.
“Developed countries should play the leading role and make greater efforts,” she said, while calling upon all participant countries to “show their flexibility” and “narrow differences.” – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com