'Ambitious and balanced' climate change plan to keep warming 'well below' two degrees Celsius

Talks at the United Nations summit in Paris slipped past their Friday evening deadline as negotiations continued

ministers, world, leaders, climate, change, agreement, draft, talks, paris, united, nations

The slogan "1.5 DEGREES" is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Image: Francois Mori / AP/Press Association Images

An "ambitious and balanced" deal on climate change will limit warming to "well below" 2C, according to France's foreign minister.

Laurent Fabius said the accord negotiated at United Nations talks in Paris would be a "historic turning point" if it is adopted.

He added: "The world is holding its breath, it's counting on all of us."

As well as the 2C target, the deal, which would be legally binding, includes a commitment to strive towards limiting increases to 1.5C.

With 2015 forecast to be the hottest year on record, world leaders and scientists have warned a deal on limiting greenhouse gas emissions is vital for capping temperatures and avoiding the worst consequences of a changing climate.

Delegates applauded at the start of the meeting before the final version of the text was released, which they were told also includes a five-year review system to increase ambition and differentiation between nations as to what their responsibilities are.

(Adrian Barry)

One of the major areas of debate has been over a promise that developed nations should give $100bn (around €91bn) to help poorer countries deal with the consequences of climate change.

Mr Fabius said the draft text would set that figure as a floor by 2020.

The agreement must be passed at a full plenary meeting of the conference, where countries could still raise objections.

If the deal is adopted it will be the world's first comprehensive climate agreement with all countries taking action to tackle global warming.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made an impassioned plea to the diplomats charged with negotiating the deal.

"The whole world is watching. Billions of people are relying on your wisdom," he said.

French President Francois Hollande echoed Mr Ban's comments, calling on nations to adopt "the first universal agreement on climate".

The final draft of the agreement will be translated and distributed on Saturday afternoon, Mr Fabius said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he believes it is "teed up" to be adopted.

He said: "It should be good but we'll see. Little things can happen but we think it's teed up."

Prof John Sweeney, director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit at Maynooth, spoke to Futureproof about the deal.

While Prof Sweeney says there are flaws people could find with the deal, he explains "it does represent a framework, and I think a positive step forward that brings together countries with a mandate to improve their tackling of this global programme.

"This is a day which people will be talking about for decades, because this is an agreement that will affect the everyday lives of people for the next half century," he added.

Negotiations 

Talks at the United Nations summit in Paris slipped past their Friday evening deadline as countries engaged in shuttle diplomacy in an effort to find common ground.

French and UN officials said early on Saturday that they had finished an edit of the final draft agreement to be presented to ministers this morning, after almost two weeks of discussions - and nearly 16 hours after the summit was meant to close.

However, critics have said the emerging deal has serious weaknesses, claiming the emissions cuts will not be enough to keep warming to less than 2C.

The issue of "loss and damage" - recognising vulnerable countries need help to deal with climate change symptoms such as rising sea levels - is difficult when more developed countries do not want to leave themselves open to liability or claims of compensation.

This sticking point saw tensions rise as India's environment minister Prakash Javadekar accused the developed world of not showing flexibility towards poorer countries.

And Marshall Islands foreign minister Tony de Brum, the driving force behind the "high ambition coalition", accused some countries of trying to "gut the text" of the strong agreement he and many EU countries are seeking.

Minister Fabius, who is chairing the talks, sounded a confident note ahead of the meeting this morning.

"All the conditions are ripe for a universal and ambitious agreement," he said.

French President Francois Hollande is at the talks to lend his support to Mr Fabius, his office said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was among those who travelled to the conference centre on the outskirts of Paris early on Saturday.