Negotiators say global climate deal is close

Karl Ritter
Associated Press

Le Bourget, France – — Talks on a global pact to fight global warming appeared to make progress late Friday, with some negotiators telling the Associated Press a deal was close.

Negotiators emerged from meetings with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the host of the talks, amid an air of optimism that had been lacking just hours earlier.

Fabius was expected to present a new, potentially final draft of the elusive accord Saturday morning at 9 a.m.

“We are pretty much there,” Egyptian Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy, the chairman of a bloc of African countries, told the AP late Friday. “There have been tremendous developments in the last hours. We are very close.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other top officials shuttled among high-stakes meetings all day Friday in hopes of coming to a final agreement on Saturday.

Negotiators from more than 190 countries in Paris are aiming to create something that’s never been done before: an agreement for all countries to reduce man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and help the poorest adapt to rising seas, fiercer weather and other impacts of global warming.

This accord is the first time all countries are expected to pitch in — the previous emissions treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, only included rich countries.

The talks, originally scheduled to end Friday, dragged into an extra day as the French hosts said they needed more time to overcome disputes.

A French official expressed confidence that the draft to be presented Saturday would be the final one. The official was not authorized to speak publicly because the negotiations were ongoing.

Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu was also upbeat.

“The signals that have come to me give me encouragement that we are going to have a very … comprehensive and strong agreement in Paris,” Sopoaga told the AP.

Liu Zhenmin, deputy chief of the Chinese delegation, was more cautious. Asked whether the draft would be the final one, he said only if “it’s more or less acceptable.”

Earlier Friday, Liu stood firm on his nation’s demand that rich countries should assume most responsibility for the costs and argued against an agreement that sets too-tough goals for weaning the world off using oil, gas and coal — the biggest source of carbon emissions.

The U.S. and European countries want to move away from so-called “differentiation” among economies and want big emerging countries like China and India to pitch in more.