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People pass a world map at The German pavillon entitled "Below 2 degrees, Together we'll make it" during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

More LE BOURGET, France (AP) -- The once black-and-white world of climate negotiations for poorer countries has evolved into many shades of gray at talks this week in Paris. For years, many in the developing world said richer countries created the global warming problem with their industrial emissions so it is up to them to clean it up — a sticking point in past climate negotiations. But there's no way that global warming can be kept below the international goal of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times without dramatic limits in future carbon dioxide emissions from the developing nations, climate experts and even officials from developing nations say. The Earth has already warmed up about 1 degree Celsius since then. "Everybody has to participate in cleaning up the mess," said Richard Somerville, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate scientist. "If you are going to take it seriously, everybody has to play a part." Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga said even though developing nations like his — which is being threatened with being wiped out by a rise in sea levels — didn't cause the global warming problem, they still have to limit future fossil fuel use because the problem has gotten so serious. But poorer nations need financial aid to help pay for renewable energy over often-cheaper fossil fuels. "Yes they are ready, because they recognize it is a global issue," Sopoaga said Thursday. "Let's do it together." China's climate change special envoy, Xie Zhenhua, said even though it will be difficult, China is committed to changing its energy system, peaking its emissions by 2030, if not earlier. China is by far the world's No. 1 carbon emissions polluter. "This is not something imposed on us," Xie said Thursday at the Chinese pavilion at the Paris climate talks. "This something we Chinese want to do ourselves. And we will do it well." At a Thursday news conference, some least-developed nations continued to make the case for an agreement that reflects that poor countries can't do as much as rich ones. Pa Ousman Jarju, minister of environment and climate change of Gambia, called the issue "the elephant in the room." "We are different. We have different capabilities," Jarju said. "We need to ensure that we have an agreement that would reflect those realities." Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko of South Africa, who heads the bloc of developing countries in the climate talks, said the group was united and insisted that that's a good thing for everyone. "If you have a fragmented group it makes the management of the negotiations that much harder," she said. Janos Pasztor, the United Nations assistant secretary general for climate change, said if there is "one set of rules of the road" for nations regardless of rich or poor in the agreement, it will also have flexibility "so that the developing countries will also be able to deliver." "Developing nations understand that they also have an increasing responsibility while recognizing clearly that the developed countries have to still take the lead," Pasztor said in an interview with The Associated Press. "You see that in their national plans." "Approximately two-thirds of avoided emissions would have to come from developing worlds," said Andrew Jones, co-director of the Climate Interactive, a group of scientists that use computer simulations to model how much warming will happen under different pollution cuts offered up in the international negotiations. The reason for that is, under a scenario where emissions continue at the current pace, most of the pollution growth comes from the anticipated increase in fossil fuel use by developing nations, said Ellie Johnston of the Climate Interactive. Former NASA chief climate scientist James Hansen, often considered the godfather of global warming research, said Thursday there is a sense of unfairness about climate change. He said the problem was caused by developed north nations, but it is felt by "nations at low latitude that did almost nothing to cause the problem." Sylvie Corbet contributed to this report from Le Bourget.


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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The historic agreement on climate change marked a major milestone on Friday with a record 175 countries signing on to it on opening day. But world leaders made clear more action is needed, and quickly, to fight a relentless rise in global temperatures. With the planet heating up to record levels, sea levels rising and glaciers melting, the pressure to have the Paris Agreement enter into force and to have every country turn its words into deeds was palpable at the U.N. signing ceremony. "The world is in a race against time," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening speech. "The era of consumption without consequences is over." "Today you are signing a new covenant with the future. This covenant must amount to more than promises," he said. The agreement will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions have formally joined it, a process initially expected to take until 2020. But following a host of announcements at the signing event, observers now think it could happen later this year. China, the world's top carbon emitter, announced it would "finalize domestic procedures" to ratify the agreement before the G-20 summit in China in September. The United States, the world's second-largest emitter, reiterated its intention to ratify this year, as did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of Mexico and Australia. Maros Sefcovic, the energy chief for another top emitter, the 28-nation European Union, has also said the EU wants to be in the "first wave" of ratifying countries. Congo's President Joseph Kabila, speaking on behalf of the world's 48 least-developed countries, said all were committed to "to move in one irreversible direction to secure a safer climate." Even though small emitters, he said they would take the steps required to ratify the agreement "as soon as possible," a reflection of the wide reach of the agreement. The Washington-based World Resources Institute said that at least 25 countries representing 45 percent of global emissions had either joined the agreement Friday or committed to joining it early. French President Francois Hollande, the first to sign in recognition of his key role in achieving the December agreement, said he would ask parliament to ratify it by this summer. "There is no turning back now," Hollande told the gathering, adding that a key to success in combating climate change will be to get governments, companies, and people all over the world to work together to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said the signing of the agreement had to be followed by a recommitment by world leaders to actually win the "war" against carbon emissions that are making the world hotter every year. Putting the deal into economic terms, he said, "the power of this agreement is what it is going to do to unleash the private sector" to define the new energy of the future and set the global economy on a new path to growth and development that preserves the environment. Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo Dicaprio, a U.N. messenger of peace and climate activist, captured the feelings of many when he said: "We can congratulate each other today, but it will mean absolutely nothing if the world's leaders gathered here go home and do nothing." "No more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies," he told the VIPs. "The world is now watching. You will either be lauded by future generations or vilified by them." After he spoke, leaders and diplomats from the 175 countries were called to the front of the chamber to sign the agreement. Kerry carried his granddaughter in his arms, a symbol of the future generations the agreement is aimed at protecting. The signing set a record for international diplomacy: Never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day. States that didn't sign Friday have a year to do so. The ceremony, held on Earth Day, brought together a wide range of states that might sharply disagree on other issues. North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong made a rare U.N. appearance to sign and Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe brought applause when he declared, "Life itself is at stake in this combat. We have the power to win it." Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga of Tuvalu, which has seen four of its small islands disappear into the Pacific Ocean since 2000, said the agreement can change the world — but islands on the frontline of climate change urgently need better access to financing to protect themselves against rising oceans. He urged international support for an insurance program for Pacific island nations. Tuvalu was one of 15 nations that not only signed but ratified the agreement on Friday. Those that haven't indicated they will sign include some of the world's largest oil producers — Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, according to the World Resources Institute. The Paris Agreement was a major breakthrough in U.N. climate negotiations, which for years were slowed by disputes between rich and poor countries over who should do what. Under the agreement, countries set their own targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The targets are not legally binding, but countries must update them every five years. Already, states face pressure to do more. Scientific analyses show the initial set of targets that countries pledged before Paris don't match the agreement's long-term goal to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with pre-industrial times. Global average temperatures have already climbed by almost 1 degree Celsius. Last year was the hottest on record. The latest analysis by the Climate Interactive research group shows the Paris pledges put the world on track for 3.5 degrees Celsius of warming. A separate analysis by Climate Action Tracker, a European group, projected warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius. "We have a once-in-history opportunity to create a new, shared, inspiring and sustainable world," Professor Nicholas Stern, who heads the climate change institute at the London School of Economics, told a luncheon hosted by the secretary-general. "If we delay, it will be gone." "If we do get it right, we will launch a new wave of dynamic innovation and growth in the medium-term," Stern said. "The consequences of getting it wrong are unthinkable.


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Whether it's news of melting glaciers or the bleaching of 93% of the Great Barrier Reef, the seemingly relentless march of climate change can be daunting. Even as we see real progress toward a future beyond fossil fuels, it's more clear than ever that an awful lot of irreversible damage has already been done. But that doesn't mean we can't adapt. From farmers to businesses to community leaders, there are people everywhere who are seeking to model what a future in a changed and changing climate may look like. Take this diverse group of farmers who are beginning to shift toward a more resilient form of agriculture—using cover crops, planned grazing, crop diversity and more to move away from monoculture and a dependence on fossil fuels. This video is just one of many created by The Climate Listening Project, an on-going series of "hopeful conversations on climate and community." Coordinated by producer Dayna Reggero (below), the project is a collaboration of groups and entities including K23 Media, Dogwood Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Audubon Society, Forsyth Audubon, Cultivating Resilience, MountainTrue, Regeneration International, Climate Interactive, The Collider, and Accelerating Appalachia. Here's Dayna's take on why all of this matters: We launched in Asheville, North Carolina, toured the Southeast, went up to New York and over to Montana. We traveled to Paris for the COP21 Climate Talks; and then to Belize to follow the story of a bird that is connecting people around the world. It’s the little connectors: a bird we love, the food we eat, our faith, families, and businesses — the things we care about. We hope that the stories and videos we share can express what we’re hearing about the impacts from climate change and the hopeful, positive stories of people around the world coming together around these connectors. Keep an eye on The Climate Listening Project. I suspect there's much more to come.


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Anne Hidalgo , Mayor of Paris, center, poses for a group picture with Michael R. Bloomberg U.N. Secretary General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, and Alain Juppe, Mayor of Bordeaux, top left, and Fatimatou Mint Abdel Malick mayor of Tevragh-Zeina, Mauritania, left, along with mayors from various cities during a meeting with Mayors at Paris city Hall as part of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Paris, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori) More PARIS (AP) — In climate math, the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is much greater than 0.5. Small nations say that for them, that half-degree could mean the difference between life and death. For larger nations, the question is what's realistic and what's not when it comes to limiting global warming. The broader issue is how much warming is too much. In 2010, international negotiators formally adopted a goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times; Earth has already warmed nearly 1 degree. The warming goal is what experts call a guardrail, and it has the potential to derail the climate talks going on in Paris if negotiators can't agree on a number. Small island nations — like the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and St. Lucia — and some other countries are pushing 1.5 because they see it as an issue of survival. They talk about sea level rise inundating cities, salt water killing off crops, and more dangerous storms wiping out cities. "It's a fight that really should not be focused on numbers, 1.5, 2, 2.5," said James Fletcher, St. Lucia's minister for sustainable development, energy, science, and technology. "It should be focused on lives. We're not fighting for numbers, we're fighting for lives." Climate scientists say both numbers are a bit arbitrary, but keeping warming to 1.5 degrees could increase the chance of survival for coral reefs, slow the rise in the number of ever-increasing severe weather disasters, and help keep the planet from hitting dreaded but so far unseen tipping points of irreversible environmental damage. "There is no such thing as a guardrail where we are free from all the impacts of climate change; we've already seen climate change and it's widespread," said Chris Field, a Carnegie Institution scientist who headed an international scientific assessment of climate impacts two years ago. For some countries, keeping warming to 1.5 degrees may require steep and painful cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas. But United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres and climate talks president Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, were optimistic about compromise. So far, international negotiators trying to broker a deal say it's a challenge they think they can handle. There are many issues in the talks that started Sunday and continue through mid-December. Climate negotiators are trying to figure out how much countries must reduce carbon dioxide emissions to keep the planet from heating up to dangerous levels; how to make sure countries do what they promise; and who pays for it all. But how much countries cut and pay could depend in part on the planetary goal. "Whether the text will also take into account a very justifiable request from the most vulnerable countries to improve on those efforts, it remains to be seen how that is going to be handled," Figueres said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It wouldn't surprise me if there is a recognition of the intense vulnerability of some nations." Fletcher said that based on reports from his negotiators, there will be pushback from some countries on the 1.5 goal. U.S. chief climate negotiator Todd Stern said his delegation has talked with the small islands about their position. "We haven't landed anywhere yet but we hear the concerns of those countries and we think those concerns are legitimate," he said. India's chief climate negotiator, Ashok Lavssa, said India believes that the number should be below 2 degrees, but whether it goes all the way to 1.5 is difficult to say. Fletcher said he can see a compromise where both goals — 2 and 1.5 — are listed in whatever pact comes out of the conference and countries will agree to try to hit 1.5 but commit to 2 if they can't. Then there's the question of whether either goal is attainable. Andrew Jones, co-director of Climate Interactive, has run the numbers on computer models that simulate how much the world warms based on how much carbon pollution is spewed. He calls achieving a 2 degree goal difficult and a 1.5 degree goal "very difficult." His numbers show that current pledges by nations would only limit warming to 3.5 degrees, down from the current trajectory of 4.5 degrees if nations continue producing emissions as they have been. For example, to do its part in keeping warming to 2 degrees, the U.S. must cut emissions by 4.1 percent a year by 2030, but to get to 1.5, it must cut emissions by 6.2 percent a year. Those cuts would need to increase even more between 2030 and 2050. The fastest a country has ever cut carbon emissions was about 4 percent a year during the 1970s oil crisis, when France switched heavily to nuclear power. But Jones and MIT professor John Sterman said people shouldn't get bogged down in the numbers right now. They said it's like driving from New York City to San Francisco, arguing about where you are going to park when you get there when you are still only on the East Coast. Field said it's a bit of an academic question, especially since the emissions already spewed stay around for so long the world is nearly already committed to 1.5 degrees of warming. "We're very, very close," Field said. "We're teetering on the edge of commitment to 1.5 degrees C," Field said. He added that he finds it difficult to imagine how the world can prevent 1.5 degrees of warming "without messing up the global economy, including people in developing countries." Others, like James Hansen, a former NASA climate chief turned activist, said 2 degrees is too much warming, calling it "a crazy target to have; you cannot say that's a safe guardrail." Hansen, often considered the godfather of global warming science said "1.5 is certainly less dangerous than 2 degrees; I wouldn't even want to characterize that as a guardrail."


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The Eiffel Tower is partially covered by an early morning fog in Paris, France, November 27, 2015 as the capital will host the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) from November 30 to December 11. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer More OSLO (Reuters) - Before a summit on climate change in Paris next week, many governments are citing scientific studies indicating that their plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions until 2030 will come within 0.7 degrees Celsius of an agreed 2C (3.6 Fahrenheit) target for limiting global warming this century. Yet the studies they choose to quote are only the most optimistic of a range of projections, and presume that governments will go on to make even deeper emission cuts after 2030, which is far from certain. With no action, a U.N. scientific panel estimates that the global average surface temperature in 2100 will be around 4.8C (8.6F) above pre-industrial times, dramatically increasing the frequency of extreme weather events and raising the sea level. To avoid the worst of these effects, a ceiling of 2C has been agreed, and about 170 governments have submitted national plans before the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 summit to curb emissions from 2020-30. Keen to show their policies will work, many cite two estimates that the pledges so far could limit the rise to 2.7C (4.9F). U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern mentioned 2.7C in testimony to a Senate sub-committee last month, saying national policies marked "a powerful move in the right direction". Christiana Figueres, the head of the U.N. Climate Secretariat, summed up the national plans in a report last month by saying they "have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100". Yet Bill Hare, one of the scientists behind Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a group of four European institutes that first estimated 2.7C, said promises for action until 2030 "mark progress, but current policies are far from enough". He said the CAT estimate required all countries to continue deeper curbs on emissions right up to 2100 - far stricter than the assumptions by most other research institutes. The International Energy Agency also estimates an increase of 2.7C. But projections by at least 10 research groups range up to a rise of 3.7C (6.7F). Thomas Spencer, of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in France, noted that there were huge uncertainties in all projections beyond 2030: "It's like trying to predict the winner of a marathon after only the first 10 km." Bjorn Lomborg, head of the Copenhagen Consensus Center who won fame with his 2001 book "The Skeptical Environmentalist", reckons current national plans will only make a fraction of a degree of difference to warming this century. "It's like saying Greece is on track to solve its debt crisis after paying a first instalment of a loan," he said. This year is on track to be the warmest on record, already about 1.0C (1.8F) above pre-industrial times. Andrew Jones of U.S.-based experts Climate Interactive, which estimated with MIT Sloan that the existing pledges put the globe on track for 3.5C (6.3C) of warming by 2100, said 94 percent of the difference with CAT hinged on less optimistic projections about what happens after 2030. Climate Interactive reckons, for instance, that overall greenhouse gas emissions from China, the world's biggest emitter, will rise after 2030, while CAT says they will fall.

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