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Climate Talks Shift Into High Gear     12/07 06:23

   The mood is about to shift, the hours grow longer and the already high sense 
of urgency somehow amp up even more as the United Nations climate summit heads 
into its final week.

   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The mood is about to shift, the hours 
grow longer and the already high sense of urgency somehow amp up even more as 
the United Nations climate summit heads into its final week.

   Every sentence, every word -- especially those about the future elimination 
of planet-warming fossil fuels -- will matter at the U.N. conference in 
oil-built Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Professional negotiators who have 
been working on getting options into shape will turn over their work to senior 
national officials, many at minister levels, who will have to make the tough 
political choices.

   "We're heading into quite a political process, less access into the 
negotiating rooms, negotiations will go deep into the night, a number of 
nights," said David Waskow, international climate initiative director for the 
World Resources Institute.

   Even with the hard work to come, some of those who are about to do it have 
this sense of optimism, especially because everyone has the day off on Thursday.

   "We had a pretty damn good week here in Dubai already. Now, obviously, there 
are some complicated issues to still resolve. We all know that. Nobody is 
ducking and nobody is going to pretend about that," U.S. Special Envoy John 
Kerry said. "The negotiators are basically trying to put together in each 
section a relevant a set of options. And then we ministers will have the fun 
and pleasure next week of kind of noodling through those options."

   Multilateral negotiations -- involving in this case nearly 200 parties -- 
are much different and often more difficult than the horse-trading two 
countries can do in bilateral talks, said veteran diplomat Adnan Amin, the 

   The key document is called Global Stocktake. It's the first of its kind in 
U.N. climate negotiations, saying how far the world has come from the 2015 
Paris agreement -- where nations agreed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius 
(2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since preindustrial times -- and what it has to do 
next. A draft came out late Monday and negotiators have been poring over it. 
Next, officials like Amin will get "a very clear sense by the end of the week 
where people stand on the text."

   Amin said there's a rhythm to these climate talks.

   "You start off very hopeful, euphoria," Amin said. "Things are happening. 
Then the negotiations get hard and people start spreading rumors and conjecture 
and a little bit of depression, and then things start to come up again. And the 
clarity of the negotiation process becomes clearer. Then you have the political 
engagement, and that's where the real intensity and excitement comes."

   This is all going the way it should, even if it seems overwhelming, said 
German special climate envoy Jennifer Morgan.

   "There's now a text with many, many brackets (choices), 30 different groups 
of options for the global stocktake that now needs to be consolidated so that 
ministers next week can start getting into each of those topics and finding 
solutions," Morgan said. "There's this moment when one thinks, oh, my gosh, so 
many texts, so many brackets. But I think, actually the process is going along 
as it should."

   EU negotiators say the core document is in pretty good shape and are 
confident the key issues are clearly defined. Options remain open for ministers 
taking over the negotiations which is not often the case at this stage of these 
difficult multilateral talks.

   They expect a new text with the latest amendments to be issued in the early 
hours of Friday morning, for talks to begin in earnest on Friday at a 
ministerial level and for a presidential-led process similar to talks Glasgow 
or Paris.

   EU countries, along with small island countries -- oft-victimized by climate 
change -- and some progressive Latin American countries are aligned on calling 
for a phase-out of fossil fuels, negotiators said. While there will be strong 
resistance to this measure, officials are confident references to fossil fuels 
will appear in the final text for the first time and within a timeline 
compatible with U.N. science reports.

   Representatives for poor nations and climate advocates are putting a lot of 
pressure on negotiators for the fossil fuel sections.

   "The success of COP28 will not depend on speeches from big stages," said 
Uganda climate activist Vanessa Nakate. "It will depend on leaders calling for 
a just and equitable phase-out of all fossil fuels without exceptions and 

   Wopke Hoekstra, the European Union climate commissioner said the bloc will 
make a big push on the issue, "giving it our all."

   A phase-out "will cost money," Avinash Persaud, climate envoy for Barbados 
said, asking who'll pay. "I don't understand why they are pushing for it to be 
global. United States and Canada are two of the richest countries and largest 
producers of fossil fuels. Why don't we have phase-out there? It's the cheapest 
place to phase-out and will have the biggest impacts."

   Kerry said he gets that.

   "There has to be a fairness in the air here," Kerry said. "You know, we 
don't want people just coming ... feeling maybe, you know, punched a little bit 

   And it's not just fossil fuel language.

   "One way or another, next week is going to be really difficult," said Power 
Shift Africa policy adviser Amy Gillian-Thorpe. "I think we're leaving the 
lights on the second week. And that's really unfortunate that we haven't been 
able to move forward, particularly on adaptation issues."

   Kerry said the sense of urgency will win out.

   "I'm not telling you that everybody's going to come kumbaya on the table," 
Kerry said. "But I am telling you we're going to make our best effort to get 
the best agreement we can to move as far as we can, as fast as we can, and 
that's what people in the world want us to do. It's time for adults to behave 
like adults and get the job done."

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