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France urges climate talks progress, Hollande downbeat

17 october 2015, 17:13
0

French President Francois Hollande, on a visit to Iceland Friday, said he was "very pessimistic" about the effects of climate change as negotiators prepare for preparatory talks in Bonn on a climate rescue pact, AFP reports.

France is hosting a crucial year-end UN climate conference and officials will meet in the former west German capital on Monday for five days of intense debate over the blueprint for what would be the first-ever global climate agreement.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius earlier urged delegates to make progress at the final official negotiating round before the November 30-December 11 Paris conference.

"We have to hope that parties accept it (the latest version of the draft) as the basis for negotiation," he told journalists in Paris. 

"There will certainly be additions and changes and that is normal, but my wish is that parties will make the best use of these few days to make strong progress."

Standing at the foot of Iceland's Solheimajökull glacier, which is melting rapidly because of warmer temperatures, Hollande said he felt as if he was witnessing "the disappearance of history".

"I am very pessimistic about the effects of global warming. This glacier is receding by 50 metres a year -- that's very fast, much faster than we had imagined," he told reporters.

Negotiators in Bonn will tackle a long list of deeply divisive issues, starting with how to divvy up responsibility for limiting, and adapting to, fossil fuel-driven threats to the Earth's climate system. 

There is also the question of who should foot the bill.

The Bonn session must yield an "advanced draft" to be polished by government ministers and heads of state for adoption in Paris.

Since the last meeting in September, the joint chairmen of the talks, Algeria's Ahmed Djoghlaf and Daniel Reifsnyder of the United States, have slashed the blueprint from 80-odd pages to 20.

"Now we have to choose between the many options," Fabius said. "A maximum number of issues must be settled even before the beginning of the (Paris) conference."

"We have to avoid the Copenhagen syndrome," he added, referring to the 2009 UN conference in the Danish capital that ended with more than 110 frustrated heads of state and government struggling, in vain, to forge a comprehensive deal.

For Paris, world leaders have been invited to attend on the first day only, to give "political impetus" to ministers and officials who must deliver the final product.

After Copenhagen, nations set a new deadline of 2015 for an agreement that would enter into force in 2020.

The overarching goal is to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels to avoid worst-case-scenario changes to Earth's climate system.


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