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UN climate change summit a crucial meeting

November 30, 2015 - FRANCE

World leaders convene in Paris with the aim of signing a pact to tackle the emissions that scientists blame for ever-greater catastrophic weather events and a rise in sea levels.

More and more earthlings accept that Earth is running out of time, but no one sees agreement in Paris as a sure thing. The summit is the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The new agreement will come into effect in 2020 and will pave the way to keep a global temperature rise this century under 2 degrees C.

The United Nations last December set a deadline of Oct 1, 2015, for countries to submit pledges on what they're prepared to do to rein in fossil-fuel emissions as part of their contribution to a new deal to fight climate change. As of Oct 4, 119 submissions were on the website of the UN body overseeing the talks. The Bloomberg news wire reports that those pledges cover 146 countries, because they include a single commitment from the 28-nation EU. The 10 biggest polluters all submitted documents, according to the Bloomberg report. The holdouts, as of Oct 4, include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Qatar.

Developing countries insist that developed countries should subsidize them for making changes to meet required targets. Most developed countries face political obstacles to meeting their own targets, and even more to subsidizing the efforts of other countries.

Climate change has suffered on the political agenda in recent years, a victim of weak economies and the lobbying war waged by climate skeptics. The Copenhagen summit in 2009 foundered on the questions of binding targets and on which countries would pick up the tab.

The Paris summit is also the 11th meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

What did the Copenhagen climate summit achieve? (BBC 21 Dec 2009)

21st session of the UNFCCC

21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change 2015 (France gov.)

Here's What the G-20 Nations are Pledging on Climate Change (Bloomberg 4 Oct 2015)

Date written/update: 2015-10-20