Dec 5, 2015 2:35 PM
The Latest: Hollande: History will judge our climate efforts
The Associated Press
LE BOURGET, France (AP) The latest news from the U.N. climate conference in Paris, which runs through Dec. 11. All times local:
French President Francois Hollande is warning environment and foreign ministers to work hard to find compromises and solutions for a global climate change pact because history will judge them harshly.
Hollande says "so many people and future generations will be very strict when they judge what was done by heads of state and government, especially when it comes to those who did not assume their responsibilities, who did not opt for a universal, legally binding, differentiated agreement."
Climate negotiators adopted a draft climate agreement Saturday that was cluttered with competing options, leaving ministers with the job of untangling key sticking points to create a lasting, universal pact to fight global warming.
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has likened the climate talks to a great moral cause with a simple "right" or "wrong" answer just like the abolition of slavery or apartheid, the right of women to vote and civil rights for all.
He says "the right choice is to safeguard the future for the next generation and for the generations to come. And young people are looking to us to provide the correct answer to that question."
Gore says "of course there are disagreements on the wording of this section or that section. But ultimately at the end of this conference we must come together and provide the answer to that third and final question: yes, we will change."
Gore was speaking Saturday to delegates during an event around the climate negotiations in Paris. Earlier he met with French President Francois Hollande and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
American actor Sean Penn, founder of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, is calling on leaders to help preserve the forests of the world.
Penn, speaking Saturday on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks outside of Paris, says he's hoping to help make Haiti "a model of reforestation" through a 10-year plan. He told climate delegations "with your help, here come the trees."
Penn praised the climate negotiators in Paris, saying "this is the most exciting time in human history because ... we have clarity and the days of dreams have given way to the days of doing."
Two Democratic senators in Paris say most Americans realize that climate change is already happening.
Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Jeff Merkley of Oregon are among 10 Democratic senators who came to the U.N. climate talks to support an ambitious global pact to fight climate change.
Shaheen told reporters Saturday that "two-thirds of the American people, according to a recent Pew poll, understand that climate change is real and that we need to take action to address it."
Merkley says "10 years ago we were talking about climate models ... but now we see the facts on the ground in every state." He says, in Oregon, the shellfish industry is suffering, forest fires are prevalent and the Cascade Mountains are seeing a smaller snowpack.
Many Republican lawmakers in the United States, however, are skeptical of whether global warming is real.
Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator from Rhode Island, says "the fossil fuel industry is doing its best to manipulate American politics" but that won't deter the success of a pact to fight climate change which is being hammered out in Paris.
Whitehouse is among 10 Democratic senators who came to the U.N. climate talks to "assure the world" that U.S. lawmakers support the "high ambition" of climate negotiators and U.S. President Barack Obama.
He tells reporters Saturday in Paris "we are here to urge that the agreement be as strong as it can be because we have an enormously important interest in making sure that our planet" stays within temperatures hospitable to humans.
Ten Democratic U.S. senators have come to Paris to show their support for the climate talks and to stress the "urgency of the issue."
Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland said at a news conference Saturday that the group was "determined to make sure that Paris is a successful conference, and that we will see a day where we can meet the goal of reducing the damage that we're doing to our planet."
Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chris Coons of Delaware, Al Franken of Minnesota, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island are also part of the delegation.
Many Republican lawmakers are skeptical of whether global warming is real or whether proposed remedies would work.
China's chief negotiator at climate talks outside Paris says that any agreement adopted in the negotiations should be legally binding in its entirety, not just parts of it.
Su Wei told reporters Saturday that if a treaty is adopted at the end of the Paris negotiations, then "all the provisions, starting from the preamble to the final clauses would be legally binding."
That contrasts with the U.S. position which is for some parts to be legally binding, but not countries' pledges to limit the greenhouse gas emissions. Binding emissions cuts would likely require the Obama administration to send the deal to the Republican-controlled Congress, where it would likely be struck down.
"We cannot just identify one sentence or one provision or article as not legally binding," Su said. "That's a general rule of international treaty laws. There's no doubt about that."
After the news conference he indicated the issue was still up for negotiation.
"We have to further discuss ... try to find some proper solution," he said.
Negotiators have adopted a draft of a global agreement to fight climate change and passed it on to environment and foreign ministers to work out the remaining points of dispute.
The chairman of the working group that had been working on the draft gaveled it just before a noon (1100 GMT) deadline after agreeing to make some cosmetic changes requested by various delegations.
The draft is full of brackets and multiple options, highlighting how a host of sticking points remain to be worked out. Most relate to how to define the obligations of countries in different stages of development in fighting climate change.
Ministers now have a week to negotiate the final outcome.
As talks on a global climate agreement reach their mid-way point, negotiators are supposed to finish their work on a new draft and hand it over to environment and foreign ministers to work out the remaining disagreements.
The French hosts of the conference have set a noon deadline (1100GMT) for negotiators to come back with a text that can be pushed up to higher-level talks.
Delegates say there are still many unresolved issues, mostly related to how to spell out the obligations of countries in different stages of development in fighting climate change.
Though 184 countries have presented plans to cut or curb emissions of greenhouse gases, many are conditional on financial support from wealthy countries.
One of the sticking points is who pays. The U.S. and other developed countries that have traditionally been the only ones expected to provide climate finance are now asking for the donor base to be expanded to include the most advanced developing countries.
Some members of a developing country bloc are pushing back, saying they're worried that rich countries are trying to dodge their responsibilities to deal with climate change.