Climate Summit Reaches Draft Agreement, but Tough Issues Remain

Negotiators still need to set a target for limiting temperature rise and resolve how to help developing nations in their transition to renewable energy.
A participant in the Global Climate March in Berlin on Nov. 29. (Photo: John Macdougall/Getty Images)
Dec 5, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

As the first week of the Paris Climate Summit draws to an end, officials from nearly 200 nations on Saturday signed a first draft agreement to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming.

“This text marks the will of all to reach an agreement,” French climate envoy Laurence Tubiana said at Saturday’s meeting. “We are not at the end of the route. Major political issues are yet to be resolved.”

The broad goals list halting rising temperatures, a move toward climate adaptability, and sustainable development, but the draft is far from conclusive. The nearly 50-page document includes hundreds of brackets that signal items that still need to be negotiated before the conference concludes on Dec. 11.

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Some areas of debate include limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times, rather than 2 degrees Celsius, and eliminating fossil fuels by 2050 rather than shifting to a low-emission economy by the end of the century.

The agreement notes that it takes into account differences in responsibilities based on a nation’s resources. While past agreements have put the financial burden on industrialized nations to fund developing regions’ transition to renewable energy, some negotiators have proposed bringing less developed countries into the fold to help out the poorest states.

China and India are pushing back, arguing that the countries that first industrialized—U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand—are obligated to continue funding developing nations, according to The Associated Press.

Delegates expressed mixed feeling about draft report.

Su Wei, a delegate from China, said the first week of the summit, “though very difficult, [has] produced very good results and provide[s] a strong foundation for next week.” Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko of South Africa said, “We had hoped that our work would be further advanced,” according to Reuters.

Nonetheless, delegates note that they have already accomplished more than the 2009 summit in Copenhagen.