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Science & Environment

Paris Climate Negotiators Continue Into Overtime


Today was supposed to be the last day of the U.N. Climate Summit. Representatives from nearly 200 countries are continuing their negotiations now in overtime. Our ALL THINGS CONSIDERED co-host, Ari Shapiro, is in Paris covering the summit.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: And this morning at 5:30, the announcement came that negotiators would blow through the deadline. They won't have a final document until tomorrow. In the meantime, we have yet another draft of the global agreement. It's shorter, closer to the final product. And to tell us what's in it, we've got NPR science correspondent Chris Joyce and also Keya Chatterjee. She runs the U.S. Climate Action Network, which is a network of environmental organizations. And Chris, I want to start with you. You told me months ago that they would not hit this deadline. In fact, you didn't book your plane ticket for until next week. So should we worry at all that they're now in overtime.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: No, this is standard practice. There's a lot at stake. And people will bargain down to the last minute and then beyond it till exhaustion takes over.

SHAPIRO: And Keya Chatterjee, what does this nearly final draft tell us about the shape of the deal that we might have not known before?

KEYA CHATTERJEE: Well, it tells us what the crunch issues are, the issues that have been left to the last second, the issues like loss and damage.

SHAPIRO: Explain what loss and damage is.

CHATTERJEE: So loss and damage addresses things like early warning systems, things that help people prepare for these impacts.

SHAPIRO: So this is specifically for poor, less-developed countries that may be less equipped to deal with the impact of climate change.

CHATTERJEE: And specifically those most vulnerable and for whom this is really an existential threat.

SHAPIRO: So Chris, as we talk about these parts that are still in debate that appears in the text in brackets - words that might or might not be in the final document. We've been talking all week about brackets, but give us a specific example in this document of some words that are in brackets that we don't know what the outcome will ultimately be.

JOYCE: Sure. Article six, for example, which is a contentious issue - money.

SHAPIRO: Chris, you have article six of the document up on your screen right now.

JOYCE: Yes, I do. Article six starts with (reading) developed country parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country parties.

But in the middle, there are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven bracketed adjectives - shall provide new financial resources, or additional financial or adequate or predictable or accessible or sustained and finally, scaled-up, so you have to pick one.

SHAPIRO: And that's what they're doing right now. Well, Keya, we know that last night President Obama called the Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Also, earlier in the summit, Obama spoke with the leaders of India, France, other countries. What does it say that this negotiation is happening not only at the delegate level here in Paris, but really between heads of state in world capitals?

CHATTERJEE: Well, I think, first, it says, very clearly, that we as a movement have forced heads of state to pay attention by going to the streets and by forcing action.

SHAPIRO: Could it also say that this is in dire shape and somebody has to pull it back from the brink?

CHATTERJEE: I think it's more likely that it's just that you need that level of engagement to talk about the scale of what we're trying to do. So we're trying to change the underpinnings of the global economy in a matter of decades. We're ending an era of fossil fuels. And it's not surprising to me that it would require heads of state to have a conversation about that.

SHAPIRO: And yet, the global goal to keep temperatures below a 2-degrees Celsius increase is not going to be met by even the most ambitious deal out of Paris. And so is part of the final negotiation here also how much more ambitious will subsequent negotiations have to be?

CHATTERJEE: Absolutely. That is the crux of what we're talking about right now. We had this huge political moment here in Paris. We had a huge political moment five years ago in Copenhagen. What's the next huge political moment? It can't be 10 years from now. We're not quite doing the job here, as you said. You know, it's as though we're missing winning the lottery by one number. That means we didn't win it. That means we need to come back. And so what we want to know is, when are we coming back?

SHAPIRO: That's Keya Chatterjee of the U.S. Climate Action Network and also NPR science correspondent Chris Joyce. Thanks for joining me on what was supposed be the last day of the U.N. Climate Summit here in Paris.

CHATTERJEE: Thank you so much for having me.

JOYCE: Glad to be here again, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.