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12/12/15

COP21: Nearly 200 nations near historic deal to slow global warming

France crafted an unprecedented deal to slow global warming by cutting and then eliminating greenhouse gas pollution, urging climate negotiators from nearly 200 nations to adopt it Saturday.

In the "Paris agreement," countries would commit to keeping average global temperatures from rising another degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) between now and 2100, a key demand of poor countries ravaged by rising sea levels and other effects of climate change. But the pact doesn't have any mechanism to punish countries that don't or can't contribute toward that goal.

Countries would also commit to limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.

In practical terms, achieving that goal means the world would have to stop emitting greenhouse gases altogether in the next half-century, scientists said. That's because the less we pollute, the less pollution nature absorbs.

Achieving such a reduction in emissions would involve a complete transformation of how people get energy.
Negotiators had a few hours to analyze the draft before going into a plenary meeting for possible adoption. French President Francois Hollande, who joined the meeting Saturday to add weight to the negotiations, urged them to approve it.

"The decisive agreement for the planet is here and now," Hollande said. "France calls upon you to adopt the first universal agreement on climate."

The deal, meant to take effect in 2020, would be the first to ask all countries to join the fight against global warming, representing a sea change in the U.N. talks, which previously required only wealthy nations to reduce their emissions.

Read more: Nearly 200 nations near historic deal to slow global warming - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

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