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As climate talks come to a close, not all the countries there are on the same page


Time is running out in all kinds of ways when it comes to the global commitment to fighting climate change. Today is set to be the last day of the summit in Glasgow, Scotland, and delegates are supposed to agree to a deal by today. Whatever these diplomats agree to will have repercussions for generations to come. The conference president released a new draft of an agreement overnight, but there are still a lot of details that have to be worked out. In a moment, we'll hear from former Secretary of State John Kerry, the top U.S. official in these negotiations. But first, we turn to NPR's Dan Charles, who is there. Hey, Dan.


MARTIN: So I understand you've gotten a look at or at least understand the outlines of this new draft agreement. What's in it?

CHARLES: Couple of key things. The first thing is it recognizes that countries are not coming up with plans that do enough to limit the warming of the planet, as they agreed to do in the Paris agreement six years ago. You may remember the U.S. signed on to that deal. The Trump administration rejected it. Now the U.S. is embracing it again. This draft asks countries to come back a year from now with better targets for the next decade that would get them on track toward meeting that Paris goal. And there's a section about money - basically, a global burden-sharing, calling on richer countries to deliver more financial aid to help poorer countries deal with climate change, build clean energy systems, also just pay for the damage caused by rising sea levels, more intense storms.

MARTIN: So disagreements over equity and delays possibly in actually getting the commitments realized. What are the other fault lines in the debate?

CHARLES: Well, there are countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia but also some developing countries, that disagree about the goal. They don't like the specific demand to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would mean coming up with, you know, quick, dramatic cuts in emissions over the next decade, phasing out burning fossil fuels. There is also a big disagreement over what's called climate finance. Poorer countries want a lot more money to help them deal with climate change. They point out, they're suffering from a problem they did not cause. Rich countries promised $100 billion a year, never delivered that much. This new draft calls for countries to do much more - for instance, double their funding for what's called Adaptation, helping countries build new infrastructure that can hold up these - hold up under these changes in the climate. I don't know if developing countries will see that as enough.

MARTIN: Right. So is resolution within reach? I mean, I guess they got to agree to something.

CHARLES: Well, there's been a fear that these talks could slide toward what you could call a least-common-denominator outcome, where some countries, like the U.S. or the Europeans, would refuse to deliver enough money to less developed countries, and then those countries in turn would water down calls to cut greenhouse emissions. That looks less likely now with this new draft. It's pointing toward a resolution that goes in the other direction - more money to help poorer countries adapt and more ambitious targets for cutting emissions. But nothing is decided.

MARTIN: And then even when you set the targets, you still got to reach them, right?

CHARLES: That is the hard part, you know, as we've seen in the U.S., where the Biden administration promised a lot but hasn't managed to get it all through Congress. And there are parts of this negotiation that get less attention but are contentious that deal with that - monitoring how countries are doing and keeping their promises.

MARTIN: OK, NPR's Dan Charles with the nuts and bolts of the draft agreement. Thank you, Dan.

CHARLES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Dan Charles is NPR's food and agriculture correspondent.