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Paris climate talks enter next phase, but political roadblocks remain

The climate talks that began last week in Paris have reached the halfway point, and early Saturday, delegates from 195 nations approved a draft text they hope will be the basis for an agreement to reduce global carbon emissions. But major political issues still remain. Matt Dalton of The Wall Street Journal joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Paris.

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    The climate talks that began last week in Paris have reached the halfway point. And early this morning, delegates from 195 nations approved a draft text they hope will be the basis for an agreement to reduce global carbon emissions.

    But the French climate ambassador cautioned that there are still major political issues to be dealt with before any final agreement is reached.

    For more, we are joined via Skype from Paris by Matt Dalton of "The Wall Street Journal".

    So, Matt, how much closer are we to an agreement now than a week ago?


    Frankly, I don't think we're that much closer. They produced a text. The text has lots of brackets, lots — and brackets means that there's not an agreement on the language that's within the brackets. And, frankly, most of the text is within brackets.

    So, the good news is that there is a text, but they really haven't produced any consensus or any agreement on all the issues proving to be the most difficult in the talks.


    Compared to other conversations about climate that happened regularly, is there any more sense of urgency in this series?


    The reason why this meeting is such a big deal is that there is hope now and the hope comes from the fact that the two biggest emitters in the world, the United States and China, have both agreed to limit their global warming emissions, and in fact, to reduce their emissions at some point. That was always the big sticking point, the big problem in these negotiations before. So, that has unlocked the negotiations.

    The rest of the world said, "Well, the two biggest emitters are going to do this, then we're game to talk." And I think there's a lot of political momentum behind an agreement. It's just the question of whether they can sort out these details


    So, what are the most difficult sticking points?


    There's a question of whether the countries should be limiting global warming to less than two degrees since the industrial — the start of the Industrial Age or less than 1.5 degrees Celsius since the start of the Industrial Age.

    A lot of developing countries, particularly countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, say that if we get to two degrees of warming, large swaths of our territories are going to be uninhabitable. Some nations will be completely uninhabitable and have to move. So, there's — they're arguing that this agreement needs to be much more ambitious. It needs to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees.

    Then, there's the issue of finance. Money is going to make this whole agreement work, money from the developed nations to help developing nations to limit their emissions and also to help them adapt to the effects of global warming. Developed nations have pledged $100 billion annually by 2020. There's a question of what happens after 2020. Which nations are going to pay?

    The U.S., the European Unions and others argue that China, which was once considered to be a developing country, is now rich enough that it should really be called upon to pay part of the bill.


    So, if there is an agreement reached, how binding is this?


    A lot of countries, the European Union in particular, want this to be legally binding, and enforceable, something like an international treaty. The United States has a problem with that. Republicans are going to oppose any kind of global warming agreement. The Obama administration has said, well, given that we can't make the emissions targets that are being negotiated here legally binding on an international level. They just have to be voluntary in that sense, and that's the best we can do.


    All right. Matt Dalton of "The Wall Street Journal" joining us via Skype from Paris today — thanks so much.


    Thank you.

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