New Draft Climate Agreement Leaves Major Sticking Points

The latest draft of a new global climate agreement was met with cautious optimism on Thursday night, as the clock ticks down on the 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21, in Paris.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius presented the revised text just before negotiators headed into closed overnight meetings. While the final agreement is due on Friday, some experts speculated talks will bleed into the weekend.

“It does look like there’s some work to be done,” said Rachel Cleetus, the lead economist and climate policy manager for the Union of Concerned Scientist’s Climate and Energy Program.

“But I think there’s a lot of hope and optimism that Paris will deliver a positive outcome,” she added. “But we won’t know until we see that final agreement.”

At 27 pages, the revised draft trimmed the number brackets — which indicate contested text — from 1,622 in the pre-COP text to 48. Sticking points include how to finance mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, what level of commitments should be expected for wealthy versus poor nations, and the tracking of progress toward those commitments.

Also remaining is the broader question of how ambitious the agreement will be. The language of the current draft states the need to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels” and to pursue “efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”

Forming the backbone of the climate pact are emissions-reduction pledges, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, which were submitted by participating countries ahead of the conference. But as HuffPost reported, those promises fall well short of what scientists say is necessary to stave off catastrophic climate change, including the devastating floods, droughts, storms and food shortages it could continue to bring.

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