Global Warming Deal Takes Shape as UN Envoys Shuffle Options

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A global agreement to fight climate change began to take shape after the United Nations published a new draft of a deal that envoys from 194 nations are working to seal at a December summit in Paris.

The 88-page document, posted online by the UN, is intended to more clearly organize the options that negotiators have grappled with for months. At a June round of discussions in Bonn, Germany, U.S. envoy Daniel Reifsnyder and Algerian diplomat Ahmed Djoghlaf were asked to condense the paper to get the talks moving.

The new version whittles down the main part of the agreement to a 19-page draft that lays out requirements for all nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The simplified text cheered environmental advocates who feared a repeat of a chaotic 2009 summit in Copenhagen, when negotiators failed to settle their differences and reach a deal. A similar text in the run-up to that meeting spanned some 200 pages.

The streamlined text “gives delegates a strong foundation to advance the climate negotiations,” Jennifer Morgan, global director of climate programs at the Washington-based World Resources Institute, said in an e-mailed statement. “The co-chairs have cut through the clutter to make the text more coherent, clarifying the key choices to be made.”

The agreement would take effect in 2020 and calls on countries to keep the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

Narrowing Options

The document cuts six proposed options on global trading of carbon emissions down to two. One would have nations continue to use the trading market and credits created under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, including UN Certified Emission Reductions, for compliance with post-2020 climate pledges, according to the draft. The other option was to have no provision on markets in the climate agreement.

The document outlines options for the goals of the agreement and actions its signatories will take to cut fossil-fuel emissions blamed for heating the planet. It also spells out measures to spread green technologies and funnel aid to the poorest nations to help them adapt to the effects of rising seawater, increased droughts and more frequent flooding.

While the page-count is a crude measure, the length of the paper is viewed by international observers as an indication of whether nations are converging on an deal, since juggling the demands of so many nations makes it hard to narrow options.

The French government circulated a memo to ministers attending informal discussions in Paris this week saying the new legal instrument “should be short and concise and include only core provisions.”

Friday’s document also includes a scenario note, annexes and suggestions for a further legal decision that would accompany the deal.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the number of pages in the draft agreement.)

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