COP21: New rich-poor coalition forming at climate talks

AP , Wednesday 9 Dec 2015

This file photo taken on November 20, 2014 shows an aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, along the central coast of Queensland. Famous natural or cultural sites such as Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef or the Italian city of Venice are threatened by global warming or are already experiencing the impacts, according to climate change experts. (AFP )

A coalition of rich and poor nations calling for a binding and ambitious global pact on climate change is emerging as a new, potentially powerful bloc in U.N. climate talks outside Paris.

The European Union has been taking the lead in recruiting countries to the alliance, which includes more than 100 countries, including small island nations and some African and Latin American countries. Major developing nations like China and India aren't part of it.

Though U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern referred to it as a "coalition of ambition" earlier this week, a negotiator for another developed country said the U.S. hadn't yet joined the group.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing, the negotiator said that the alliance is expected to announce common positions on crunch issues later Wednesday.

The negotiator said they include having a legally binding agreement with a reference to the desire by vulnerable nations to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees C, compared with pre-industrial times, as well as a commitment to review countries' climate targets every five years, starting before 2020.

There were still discussions with the U.S. about how to deal with climate finance for developing nations, the negotiator said.


- Actor and climate activist Alec Baldwin says he wants to see an American oil company go out of business, and more attention paid to indigenous people in a global climate accord under negotiations in Paris.

Baldwin said that while he doesn't want to see mass U.S. job losses, "I'd love to see a major oil company go out of business in the United States. That would be a tremendous sign of progress," he told The Associated Press in an interview on the sidelines of the Paris climate talks.

He praised work of indigenous people "who can report what's really going on" with the planet's climate, thanks to NGOs providing them drone technology and cameras to post images and data online. "I'm more eager to rely on people like this ... than to rely on governments and industry."

Many U.S. lawmakers oppose a binding agreement in Paris to limit carbon emissions because they fear it would hurt U.S. industry and jobs.

Baldwin was in Paris to host the Equator Prize awards ceremony, a U.N.-sponsored event honoring people contributing to the fight against climate change and poverty. One winner was Farkhunda Ateel Siddiqi from Kabul, who described her work to reduce poverty and malnutrition after a remote province in northeastern Afghanistan had run out of traditional resources.


- Climate conference organizers waiting to see the latest draft of the Paris climate accord will have to wait a bit longer: It's been delayed a few hours.

A French official says the draft, expected for release at 1 p.m. (1200 GMT), will not be released until at least 3 p.m. (1400 GMT). The official says negotiators are working to "harmonize" one or two points in the text.

The official, not authorized to be publicly named speaking about the high-stakes negotiations, would not elaborate on which points.

It's the first official delay in the negotiating process so far.

The two-week talks, the culmination of years of U.N. efforts to fight global warming, are scheduled to wrap up Friday. Sticking points have included how much of it should be legally binding, and what rich countries should do to help poor countries adapt and reduce climate change.

- The Paris climate talks have a new visitor: a two-story-high, mechanically operated polar bear.

Activists from Greenpeace rolled the bear into the conference venue Wednesday morning. It's among many scattered protest actions around the two weeks of talks.

"We want the bear to represent everyone hoping in the next 72 hours" for a robust climate deal, said Greenpeace's Ben Stewart. The talks are scheduled to wrap up Friday night.

The same bear protested in front of the headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell as part of campaigns against oil drilling in the Arctic.

Activists are trying to call attention to melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other results of man-made emissions that contribute to global warming.

Short link: