Ambitious climate change agreement in sight: Fabius

By John Irish and Bate Felix
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By John Irish and Bate Felix PARIS (Reuters) - An ambitious agreement on limiting global warming is within reach, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday after a meeting of ministers ahead of the U.N. climate summit in Paris in December. Fabius said progress had been made on a number of sticking points during a two-day meeting in Paris of about 70 officials including ministers from about 60 countries aimed at finding possible compromises for a deal. "An ambitious compromise is in sight and a series of concrete proposals have been made in that light," Fabius told a news conference, adding that progress had been made on five key points but more needed to be done. Governments have made some progress toward a goal of limiting warming of the planet with national plans for action, but according to a French working document, more than 30 core questions remain unsolved before the Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 summit on global warming starts in Paris. Christiana Figueres, head of the United Nation's Climate Change Secretariat told the news conference that the ministers maintained that it was entirely possible to reach an agreement despite the complexities and challenges. She said the ministers understood the urgency to reach a deal. FINAL MOMENTS "We are coming to the last possibilities to turn the curve on emissions that continue to increase even today. We have to get them to the point where they turn the corner and begin to decrease," Figueres said. However, Swedish officials said the last leg of the negotiations are likely to go down to the final moments with financing to enable developing countries to adapt to climate change remaining one of the toughest subjects. Sweden is considered by many to be a potential bridge between developed and developing nations. It has promised about $580 million over four years to the Green Climate Fund, one of the main channels for donor countries to mobilize more than $100 billion a year in aid for developing nations by 2020 from public and private sources. "A lot of ministers are not happy that the text is so full of brackets so close to the meeting," Sweden's Environment Minister Asa Romson told reporters late on Monday as ministers gathered for warm-up talks. An updated draft text of an accord has whittled down a final text by about half to cover 55 pages, but it still has 1,490 brackets marking points of disagreement and remains far longer than hoped. Disputes over financing for poor nations have been a drag on the talks among almost 200 countries. Some delegates fear a repeat of the failed 2009 summit in Copenhagen, though others are confident of a breakthrough. "Technically, we are more advanced than in Copenhagen," Romson said, adding there was a greater sense of urgency now. Chief negotiator Anna Lindstedt, who has led the Swedish delegation at previous talks, said she thought the talks would only make real progress in Paris. "I think so," she said, when asked whether they would likely drag on to the final moments. (Reporting By John Irish and Bate Felix; Editing by Andrew Callus and Janet Lawrence)