France bows to Obama and backs down on climate ‘treaty’

FT, By Anne-Sylvaine Chassany & Pilita Clark, November 28

Paris / London – France has offered a key concession to the US on the eve of historic climate talks in Paris, saying a new global climate accord will not be called a “treaty” and might not contain legally binding emissions reduction targets.

In a significant climbdown, Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister, said signatories to the planned deal would still be legally required to meet many of its terms but most likely not the carbon-cutting goals underpinning the agreement.

“The accord needs to be legally binding. It’s not just literature,” Mr Fabius told the Financial Times. “But it will probably have a dual nature. Some of the clauses will be legally binding.”

Mr Fabius, who is to chair the UN climate conference, added: “Another question is whether the Paris accord as a whole will be called a treaty. If that’s the case, then it poses a big problem for President Barack Obama because a treaty has to pass through Congress.”


John Kerry, US secretary of state, warned in an FT interview this month that the Paris climate change summit could not deliver a treaty that legally requires countries to cut their emissions.

Whoo, boy!

Paris Climate Talks Avoid Scientists’ Idea of ‘Carbon Budget’

New York Times, By Justin Gillis, November 28

After two decades of talks that failed to slow the relentless pace of global warming, negotiators from almost 200 countries are widely expected to sign a deal in the next two weeks to take concrete steps to cut emissions.

The prospect of progress, any progress, has elicited cheers in many quarters. The pledges that have already been announced “represent a clear and determined down payment on a new era of climate ambition from the global community of nations,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in a statement a month ago.

Yet the negotiators gathering in Paris will not be discussing any plan that comes close to meeting their own stated goal of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level.


After years of studying the issue, the experts recommended to climate diplomats in 2013 that they consider the concept of a “carbon budget” to help frame the talks. Yet the idea was quickly dismissed as politically impractical, and more recent pleas from countries like Bolivia to consider it have been ignored.

Prince Charles warns of ‘perfect storm’ should Paris climate talks flop

AFP, By Ella Ide, November 26

Valletta, Malta – Prince Charles warned Thursday that if international leaders fail to clinch a deal on climate change at talks in Paris next week, it would leave mankind facing a “perfect storm”.

“This meeting falls at a very important, indeed critical moment for the future of mankind and our planet,” he said in a speech at the Commonwealth summit in Malta.

“Countless concerned people around the world” are banking on global leaders to come up with an ambitious long-term goal for the rapid reduction of carbon emissions, he said, as Commonwealth leaders began to arrive on the rain-lashed Mediterranean island.

“We face an unprecedented set of interlocking challenges, all of which are creeping up on us in the shape of perfect storm,” he added, from unsustainable population growth to migration, rapid globalisation, and social economic and energy insecurity.

The Commonwealth family of 53 nations is gathering in Malta for three days of talks from Friday with a focus on reaching agreements that will open doors for wider deals at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, which begin on Monday.

Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth, is making a state visit to Malta to coincide with the summit, supported by her husband Prince Philip, their eldest son Charles and his wife Camilla.

The Guardian: Paris climate summit: world leaders told to iron out differences before talks end

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