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Paris climate talks, day 8: What we’re reading

Questions linger before a final deal, Canada will play a big part in the home stretch, and Australia turns its focus to the rainforests.

A draft of a climate agreement is finished, but it leaves many questions unanswered. Now, as government ministers swoop in to finish off the talks by 11 December, those questions must be addressed.

Nature recaps the weekend’s reaction and looks ahead to the final days of the climate talks.

Nature special: 2015 Paris climate talks

1. Edging closer to a final deal

A week of “very low drama” produced a draft of a climate agreement, but several questions remain. One is when nations will reconvene to review their progress and adjust their pledges. Others are to do with which sections of an agreement will be legally binding. And, as before, no accord has yet been reached about how much rich countries will pay to compensate poorer countries for the effects of climate change.

2. Global greenhouse-gas emissions set to fall in 2015

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and industry are on track to level off or perhaps even dip slightly this year, according to projections released on 7 December, Nature reports. Scientists attribute the surprising result to a reduction in China’s coal consumption as its economy slows and it moves to cleaner, renewable energy sources.

3. France invites Canada to facilitate final deal

Freshly arrived in Paris, Canada's environment minister Catherine McKenna will join 13 ministers from around the world to help broker a final deal by Friday. It is the first time in a decade that Canada has been asked to help with such negotiations. McKenna said on Sunday that Canada supports including a reference in the agreement to a 1.5 °C warming target that is stricter than the official 2 °C goal, as well as legally binding requirements for setting targets and submitting progress reports, Canadian broadcaster CBC reports.

4. Britain is “totally hypocritical on climate change”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is facing fire at home for a decision to scrap funding for carbon-capture technology. Critics are also calling for the United Kingdom to offer more financial assistance to poor countries for clean energy. Cameron’s climate secretary is expected to attend the conference on Monday, according to the BBC. “The government is totally hypocritical on climate change,” said Craig Bennett, chief executive of UK-based environmental group Friends of the Earth.

5. Australia urges focus on rainforests

At a sideline event to the main negotiations, Australia introduced an initiative “to slow, halt and reverse rainforest loss”, which aims to prevent 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, The Australian reports. The country’s environment minister said that the World Bank and officials at the International Union for Conservation of Nature had declared their support for the plan.

6. California dreaming

California governor Jerry Brown is making a splash at the climate talks. He announced a plan to have only zero-emissions vehicles sold in California by 2050, a pledge since committed to by a dozen other governments. Before he travelled to Paris, Brown sat down for a question-and-answer session with California broadcaster KQED to discuss the roles of the United Nations, China and California in tackling climate change.

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Cesare, C. Paris climate talks, day 8: What we’re reading. Nature (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature.2015.18966

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