02-19-2017  8:00 pm      •     
The slogan "FOR THE PLANET" was one of several that were projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

LE BOURGET, France (AP) — French leaders touted a draft climate deal to slow but not stop global warming, announcing what they call an ambitious but realistic compromise Saturday outside Paris. After years of gridlock, world leaders hoped the unprecedented pact would be approved by nearly 200 nations later in the day.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the host of the talks, said the pact would aim to keep the rise in global temperatures by the year 2100 "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial times and "endeavor to limit" them even more, to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That was a key demand of poor countries ravaged by the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.

If the 190 nations gathered in Paris agree to an accord, it would be a breakthrough. The U.N. has been working for more than two decades to persuade governments to work together to reduce the man-made emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.

Activists planned protests across Paris on Saturday to call attention to populations threatened by melting glaciers, rising seas and expanding deserts linked to climate change.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was working at the talks to strike compromises with developing nations such as India to ensure a deal that satisfies the Obama administration's hopes for an agreement that the U.S. can sign on to without Congressional approval. He said he believed the pact would be adopted on Saturday.

"It should be good but we'll see. Little things can happen but we think it's teed up," Kerry told reporters.

Even before the draft was released, delegates were optimistic that it would strike a good balance between the demands of the different participating nations.

Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu was upbeat. "The signals that have come to me give me encouragement that we are going to have a very ... comprehensive and strong agreement in Paris," he told the AP.

Fabius said the "final draft" would retain a long-term goal of keeping the overall global temperature rise from pre-industrial times to the end of this century "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Already, the world has warmed by about 1 degree Celsius, and poor low-lying nations and environmental groups have pushed to keep a goal of 1.5 degrees in the text.

"Even at 1.5 degrees, scientific consensus tells us very many of us will not be safe," Giza Gaspar Martins, the Angolan chair of the Least Developed Countries negotiating group, said in a statement Saturday.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees instead of 2 degrees could potentially cut in half the projected 280 million who live on land that would eventually submerged by rising seas, according to Ben Strauss, a sea level researcher at Climate Central.

The talks were initially scheduled to end Friday. U.N. climate conferences often run over time, because of the high stakes and widely differing demands and economic concerns of countries as diverse as the United States and tiny Pacific island nations.

This accord is the first time all countries are expected to pitch in. The previous emissions treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, included only rich countries and the U.S. never signed on.

More than 180 countries presented plans to cut or curb greenhouse gas emissions in the run-up to the conference. That was a major breakthrough for the climate talks, showing almost all countries were ready to be part of the new deal after years of stalemate.

But disputes arose in Paris over how to anchor those targets in a binding international pact, with China and other major developing countries insisting on different rules for rich and poor nations.

The U.S. resisted legally binding emissions targets because of opposition in a Republican-controlled Congress. Instead U.S. negotiators wanted robust transparency rules to make sure countries live up to their commitments. China pushed back, saying Western proposals were too "intrusive."
___
Sylvie Corbet, Seth Borenstein, Andy Drake and Matthew Lee in Le Bourget contributed to this report.

 

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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