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Ministers Seek To Break UN Climate Deadlock

Mariëtte Le Roux, AFP

More than 60 environment and energy ministers tasked with inking a global pact in December to rein in climate change, meet in Paris from Sunday seeking to narrow political rifts.

The three-day gathering comes days after the UN issued a fresh warning that current carbon-cutting pledges go nowhere near far enough to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.

These national pledges will underpin the global deal being sought from a November 30-December 11 UN summit in the French capital.

That meeting, set to be opened by some 100 heads of state and government including US President Barack Obama, China’s Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi of India, is meant to deliver the first-ever universal climate rescue pact.

But first ministers need to zoom in on some of the divisive political issues that have been holding back progress.

They will base their discussions on a rough draft of a deal compiled by rank-and-file diplomats over years of tough negotiations in the UN climate forum.

The blueprint remains little more than a laundry list of often directly-opposing national options for dealing with the challenge at hand.

The last round of technical negotiations in Bonn in October saw squabbles along well-rehearsed fault lines of developed vs developing nations.

Developing countries insist rich ones should lead the way in slashing emissions because historically they have emitted more pollution.

Developing nations also want assurances of financing to make the shift from cheap and abundant fossil fuel to more sustainable energy sources, and to shore up defences against climate change-induced superstorms, drought, flood and sea-level rise.

But industrialised countries point the finger at emerging giants such as China and India spewing carbon dioxide as they burn coal to power expanding populations and economies.

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