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UN Conference Delivers Climate Draft Text

  • VOA News

NGO representatives shout “clean the air, plant a tree,” near a reproduction of the Eiffel Tower at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Dec. 5, 2015.

NGO representatives shout “clean the air, plant a tree,” near a reproduction of the Eiffel Tower at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Dec. 5, 2015.

Officials from 195 countries attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris have approved a draft text of a climate deal.

The draft document, after four years of negotiations, is meant to offer nations options to deal with the consequences of rampant emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases.

Critics say plenty of unresolved issues remain to be hammered out before the COP 21 climate conference ends Friday, including who should bear the burden of paying for new directives.

"There is huge disagreement on whether developed countries should fulfill their funding obligations or whether more channels are needed to solve the problem," said Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change. "China's position is that developed countries have to meet their commitment before 2020."

FILE - Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist, poses in front of a block of ice that was havested in Greenland and transported in a refrigerated container for a project called "Ice Watch Paris," in Paris, France, Dec. 3, 2015

FILE - Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist, poses in front of a block of ice that was havested in Greenland and transported in a refrigerated container for a project called "Ice Watch Paris," in Paris, France, Dec. 3, 2015

Developing countries balk

Representatives of the 134 developing countries objected to some industrialized countries' efforts to set conditions for funding, the Associated Press reported.

Others suggested that developed countries aren’t solely responsible for drafting new proposals, including language on climate funding.

"Others in a position to do so, or words to that affect, are encouraged or invited," said the U.S. envoy for climate change, Todd Stern. "… It essentially recognizes that there are more advanced developing countries that have already started to contribute and we think that's a good thing and they would be encouraged to do so."

Scientists have warned that as Earth warms, the planet will be increasingly hostile to human life, with rising sea levels, devastating storms and severe droughts.

FILE - A French police officer escorts Australian environmental activists called Climate Guardian Angels during a demonstration as part of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris, France, December 3, 2015.

FILE - A French police officer escorts Australian environmental activists called Climate Guardian Angels during a demonstration as part of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris, France, December 3, 2015.

Some participants doubt that the international community will reach a climate agreement.

"We had hoped that our work would be further advanced," said South Africa’s negotiator, Nozipho Mxakato Diseko.

Tapping star power

Some Hollywood stars turned up to direct more attention to the problem of global warming.

Robert Redford – actor, activist and trustee for the National Resources Defense Council – spoke with the Associated Press on the conference sidelines. "The problem is growing and the solution has not been growing equal to the problem," he said, “so I think it's time to act quickly and very boldly."

Redford used his hometown of Los Angeles, where he’d grown up after World War II, as an example of dangerously unrestrained development.

"Because it had no land use plan, it had no plan for how to sustain itself, or how to deal with change, it just kept developing and developing and developing," he told the AP. "… I watched the city that I loved as a kid feel like it was disappearing under my feet because suddenly there was pollution, suddenly there were freeways, suddenly there were skyscrapers, and nobody was paying attention to what the future was going to look like. So for me, it's one of the reasons why I do not live in Los Angeles anymore."

American actor Sean Penn, founder of J/P Haitian Relief Organization, speaks during the U.N. Change Conference near Paris, Dec. 5, 2015.

American actor Sean Penn, founder of J/P Haitian Relief Organization, speaks during the U.N. Change Conference near Paris, Dec. 5, 2015.

'Days of doing'

Actor and activist Sean Penn told climate conference participants: "Perhaps this is the most exciting time in human history, because those illusions of having too many choices have always created a chaos. And now that we live in a time where there are no choices, we have clarity. And the days of dreams have given way to the days of doing."

Penn pointed to his involvement with a Haitian reforestation project – community driven, with support from international experts and resources – as one route, the AP reported. The project aims to transform a country devastated by clear-cutting.

In 10 years, the activist said, he hopes "we’ll be looking at a country that has gone from import dependence to export economy, to enhanced education and to a beautiful place that is part of that interconnected climate environment that we are here to make pledges to."

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