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EU joins poor nations to seek ambitious climate deal

Published 08/12/2015

French hosts of the UN conference on climate change want the deal wrapped up by Friday
French hosts of the UN conference on climate change want the deal wrapped up by Friday

Europe has joined forces with some of the poorest countries in the world to call for an ambitious global climate deal as the clock ticks on crucial UN talks.

More than 100 countries across the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states have agreed they want to see a legally binding, ambitious and fair deal that sets out a long-term goal to tackle climate change which matches the science.

The statement was released as countries draw dividing lines ahead the final days of negotiations on getting a new climate deal, and sees some of the poorest nations and those most vulnerable to climate change align themselves with the EU to get the ambitious agreement they need.

It comes amid fears that some countries are using the negotiations process to slow down progress so an unambitious deal is finalised in the last hours of the conference.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific states warn the adverse impacts of climate change threaten their very survival and prevent them tackling poverty.

The EU and the 79 ACP countries are calling for a five-yearly review mechanism to examine progress on cutting emissions and to enhance action to tackle climate change, where possible, and transparency on how countries are doing on delivering their national pledges for climate action.

The statement focuses on some of the key sticking points, including a long-term goal for driving down emissions and curbing temperature rises, and the review and ratchet mechanism allowing countries to revisit their climate action plans and increase ambition.

Making sure ambition can be raised is key to achieving the 2C limit - beyond which "dangerous" climate change is expected - or the more stringent 1.5C more than 100 countries have backed at the talks as current pledges by countries for climate action will only put the world on a path to almost 3C.

Meanwhile the "Basic" group of countries, Brazil, South Africa, India and China, have also issued a statement calling for a legally binding and ambitious deal, and calling on rich countries to "substantially scale up" finance - another sticking point - to help developing countries cope with climate change and develop cleanly.

They also call for developed countries to take more action before 2020.

EU commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said: "These negotiations are not about 'them' and 'us'. These negotiations are about all of us, both developed and developing countries, finding common ground and solutions together.

"This is why the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries have agreed to join forces for an ambitious outcome here in Paris. We urge other countries to join us. Together we can do it.

"The EU stands shoulder to shoulder with its long term partners in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions."

ACP secretary general Patrick Gomes said: "The EU and the ACP Group represent a great majority of countries in the world and we want an ambitious Paris Agreement to accelerate the global transition that we urgently need.

"Now is the time for leaders to be ambitious. The adverse impacts of climate change threaten the world as a whole, including the very survival of the 79 countries of the ACP Group."

Analysis of climate action plans of 185 countries for emissions reductions and other strategies up to 2030, covering more than 90% of the world's emissions, suggests that even if they are all put into place, temperatures are likely to rise by about 2.7C by 2100.

A regular review and ratchet mechanism, to prevent low levels of effort on tackling emission being locked into the agreement, is seen as "gold dust" and a key element for those wanting an ambitious deal, with hopes the first review could take place before 2020 when the Paris agreement will kick in.

But it is thought to be getting heavy resistance from some of the big players.

Some nations are determined to keep the old division of developed and developing countries - set down in the original UN climate convention in 1992 - which developed countries say does not reflect the modern world.

They point to the fact that six out of the 10 richest nations in the world in terms of economic output per person are not included among the "annex 1" or developed countries.

Greenpeace International's executive director Kumi Naidoo said the deal needs to reflect "climate justice", as it was not fair that the countries least responsible for emissions were feeling its first and most brutal effects.

He warned politicians they have to recognise "nature does not negotiate, you can't change the science, you can only change the political will".

"One of the key things that developing countries and the most vulnerable countries and civil society is concerned about here is that we need to ensure that we get this five-year review/ratchet mechanism.

"Otherwise we are going to lock in absolutely low levels of emission (cuts) and what you'll see is an orgy of coal burning and fossil fuel expansion between now and 2030."

Campaigners are already planning climate action beyond the Paris talks, but Mr Naidoo said tackling rising temperatures would be easier if politicians "wake up and smell the coffee".

He also warned: "If we get on paper here all the words that we want to see on a piece of paper but we don't get binding, that creates a false sense of complacency."

He urged people, whatever deal is signed in Paris, not to take their eye off the process because international summits have a bad track record on delivering what countries sign up to.

The statement from the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific states was accompanied by a deal allocating almost £350 million from Europe to support climate action and the environment in the developing countries up to 2020.

The G7 group of leading economies, the European Union and Sweden have also jointly pledged 10 billion US dollars (£6.7 billion) to help an initiative that aims to hugely increase the deployment of renewables across Africa.

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