Nations to vote on final climate accord in Paris

Nations to vote on final climate accord in Paris
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Representatives for nearly 200 countries are set to vote Saturday in Paris on a major agreement to fight climate change and cut greenhouse gases.

Delegates are planning to vote to adopt the agreement at 5:30 p.m. Paris time, or 11:30 a.m. eastern United States time, hours after the release of the final draft text to be considered.


The tally comes after two weeks of negotiations that were at times strained, and years of preparations for them. The vote will be based on a consensus among the countries.

Reaching the accord has been a top priority of President Obama’s second-term push to fight climate change, since domestic United States action can do relatively little on the global scale on its own.

The 31-page agreement released early Saturday includes many important priorities that President Obama, Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryBiden's climate policies: Adrift in economic and scientific fantasyland The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted Watch live: John Kerry testifies on climate change MORE and other major international leaders had identified.

The accord is based on individual contributions that each nation has formulated based on its own abilities. The United States’ is a 26 percent to 28 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2025.

Though the emissions targets are not binding, the final agreement includes provisions to ensure transparency and reporting from each country on its emissions and its progress toward its goals.

It also urges — but does not require — that countries reevaluate their emissions cuts every five years and write new plans to take even stronger action.

That was a top priority of Obama’s, and initially resisted by some other major countries.

The agreement “strongly urges” rich nations to provide billions of dollars annually to poorer ones to fight and adapt to climate change. Obama had pushed against a more binding requirement on funding, since congressional Republicans have vowed to block any such spending.

Following requests from small island nations, the pact recognizes the need to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), though it is simply aspirational and not binding.

Environmental groups applauded the text and urged its adoption.

“The agreement will send a powerful, immediate signal to global markets that the clean energy future is open for business,” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement.

 “It makes a moral call for dramatic action that leaves no one behind, and it moves us closer to the crucial turning point when global carbon emissions, which have been rising for more than two centuries, finally begin to decline,” he said.

“The Paris agreement is a turning point for humanity,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “For the first time in history, the global community agreed to action that sets the foundation to help prevent the worst consequences of the climate crisis while embracing the opportunity to exponentially grow our clean energy economy.”

Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh said that while the fight against climate change is far from over, the Paris accord marks major progress in the effort.

“Finally the world stands united against the central environmental challenge of our time, committed to cutting the carbon pollution that’s driving climate change,” she said.

But some greens were unhappy that the negotiators missed a chance for a much stronger agreement, including one that foresees a complete phaseout of the use of fossil fuels.

“This agreement coming out of the Paris COP falls far short of what is needed to actually address our climate crisis,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch.

“The science is clear: We need to take swift and bold action if we are to have any chance of preventing the worst impacts of climate change, yet this agreement does not contain the mandates and funding to make this happen,” she added.

— This story was updated at 9:50 a.m.