'Time for agreement' as climate talks in Paris reach last formal day


Countries have been told "it's time to come to an agreement" on a new international climate deal as they worked through the night into the last formal day of talks.

A new draft version of the agreement - which aims to put the world on a path to avoiding dangerous climate change - has been circulated at the United Nations summit in Paris, with mixed reaction from campaigners, businesses and observers.

The latest draft is slightly shorter than previous drafts and has lost most of its "square brackets" which denote disagreement.

But the key issues of finance for poor countries to deal with climate change, the differences in responsibility and actions of developed and developing countries, and the overall level of ambition in the agreement, are still the focus of political dispute.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is chairing the talks, said countries must forget the ideal solution for everybody so that they could achieve what is "desirable for everyone".

"We are extremely close to the finishing line. We must show the necessary responsibility to find in the forthcoming hours a common ground.

"It's time to come to an agreement," he told the conference.

The latest version of the agreement seeks to keep temperature rises to "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels - beyond which dangerous climate change is expected - as well as to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C, which vulnerable countries say is necessary to their very survival.

It would also see countries aiming to peak climate change-causing emissions as soon as possible, and "undertake rapid reductions thereafter towards reaching greenhouse gas emissions neutrality in the second half of the century".

It also contains reference to a five-year cycle for reviewing and potentially raising the level of pledges countries have made to tackle climate change up to 2030, which are currently not enough to put the world on a path to meet the 2C target, let alone the tougher 1.5C goal.

Businesses and investors representing trillions of pounds of assets welcomed the draft deal, in particular the long-term goal for curbing climate change and the five-year review cycle in the latest version of the agreement.

But campaigners warned the deal was not yet strong enough, and needed to make sure countries reviewed their climate action targets before 2020, when the agreement would kick in, to ensure the world made sufficient greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

A new, final, version of the deal, which countries will then have to agree to, is expected later today, but many people at the talks predict them to run well past the official Friday evening deadline and into the weekend.