I’m Guardian Australia’s political correspondent, in Paris to cover the climate talks with Guardian reporters from the UK and the United States.
On day 2 most of the 150 world leaders who had spoken to the summit on Monday had gone home, the motorcades were thinning out and the grinding process of actually negotiating the agreement began.
US president Barack Obama was still around though and AT A PRESS CONFERENCE he confirmed the US was happy for one critical part of the deal to be legally binding – the need for each country’s reduction target to be periodically reviewed.
The US can’t agree to the whole deal being legally binding because it would be virtually impossible to get it through the Republican-controlled Congress, but the president’s remarks are important because the targets now on the table would AT BEST HOLD WARMING TO 2.7C – which would still unleash catastrophic climate impacts on low-lying islands and poor countries. Regular reviews hold open the hope that countries do more over time.
Obama also met leaders of some of the low lying island states, recognizing the extreme threat they face from global warming. I WROTE ABOUT THAT MEETING.
The Australian environment minister Greg Hunt was challenged about why he had approved a coal mega-mine proposed by Indian company Adani in Australia with a production so huge the coal mined would create annual emissions greater than New York City. He came up with a whole new “rationale” – that it wasn’t Australia’s mine and Australia wasn’t a “neo-colonialist” power telling poor countries what to do. Yesterday he DOWNPLAYED SUGGESTIONS that the developing countries would be able to amend the purpose of the agreement to keep global warming under 1.5C ( a harder goal than the current 2C ).
Negotiators are saying the initial talks are “bumpy” with deep disagreement over thousands of points. Their job is to hone down the 50-plus page document before handing the running of the talks to the French presidency on the weekend for the final, critical week.
Here’s my reading list from the last two days:
Lenore Taylor, political editor, Guardian Australia