Negotiators from 150 nations began talks to reach climate deal

Negotiators from 150 nations began talks to reach climate deal

Bitterly divided negotiators from nearly 150 countries began talks today on a landmark deal to cut Earth-warming greenhouse gas, amid rising emissions and 2015 threatening to be the hottest year ever recorded in history.

The talks started today a day after the heads of over 150 nations, including Prime Minister Narendara Modi, gathered here yesterday in a bid to provide a political push for a powerful climate deal.

The summit is being held under the shadow of the deadly Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people two weeks ago. About 2,800 police and soldiers have been deployed around the conference site and over 6,000 have been deployed in the city.

The 12-day conference will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C over pre-industrial temperatures.

Scientists estimate that if the world warms by more than 2°C on average above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, the effects of climate change will become catastrophic and irreversible.

A 2°C limit has long been the goal of UN climate summits, and current pledges from all countries are estimated to lead to warming of 2.7 °C to 3°C, although the proposed deal has a provision for increased emissions cuts in future.

Countries like China and India have laid out plans for cuts or curbs to their emissions. These will form the centrepiece of any historic climate deal.

The most difficult issues include working out how to share the burden of taking action between rich and poor nations, how to finance the cost of adapting to global warming and the legal format of any final text.

More than 180 countries have submitted their plans to reduce the harmful emissions that cause climate change.

The UN climate process concerns the use of fossil fuels, the backbone of the world's energy supply -- and that puts the interests of developing nations at stake.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cautioned against any unilateral steps that will lead to an economic barrier in the battle against climate change and hoped that the developed countries would mobilise USD 100 billion annually by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation.

"The principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities must remain the bedrock of our collective enterprise," Modi told the world leaders yesterday addressing the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as the COP21, which stands for the 21st annual "Conference of Parties". 

Asserting that there should be aggressive mitigative action by developed countries by 2020, Modi hoped that they will fulfil their commitments in a transparent manner.

He also underlined the need for a national will and genuine global partnership while taking steps to hammer out a landmark climate change deal.

Noting that conventional energy was still needed, Modi said it should be made clean and an end to its use should not be imposed. "And, there should be no place for unilateral steps that become economic barriers for others."

Besides Modi, other leaders including US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin attended the opening ceremony of the COP21 tasked with reaching the first truly universal climate pact.

"The future is one that we have the power to change, right here, right now," Obama said.

In an opening speech, French President Francois Hollande said, "Never have the stakes of an international meeting been so high, because it concerns the future of the planet, the future of life."

"The hope of all of humanity rests on all of your shoulders," he added.

Twenty countries, including India, the US and China, have already decided to launch an initiative to double their clean energy research and development budget over the next five years as part of global efforts to tackle climate change. 

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