Paris climate talks: 5 things you need to know to catch up

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The multi-national, two-week United Nations climate summit in Paris — 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) — is halfway over. There, more than 30,000 diplomats and delegates have been hard at work in efforts to stave off the consequences of global climate change.

The summit, scheduled to wrap-up Friday, Dec. 11, marks the largest gathering of world leaders in history.

“Never have the stakes of an international meeting been so high, since what is at stake is the future of the planet, the future of life,” President François Hollande of France told a packed United Nations plenary session last week.

Haven’t been following the summit? Here are the top five things you need to know to catch-up on what’s been happening the past 10 days:

  1. U.S. pledges to double aid to climate-hit countries. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged the United States will double its spending on climate change grants for developing nations and will spend up to $860 million in grant-based funding for developing countries by 2020.
  2. Negotiators have released a new, shorter draft of the international climate accord. Down to 29-pages, from the previous 43-page version, the new draft still has roughly 100 spots where decisions must still be made.
  3. Protesters hold sit-in against the new draft agreement. According to the Associated Press, “Hundreds of protesters have held a sit-in demonstration against a new draft agreement released Wednesday at the Paris climate talks.”
  4. China accused of blocking progress at talks. Chinese negotiators have been accused of trying to weaken the new global climate agreement. The big issue? The proposed accord requires each nation to update the United Nations (UN) on the pledges they have made to limit their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
  5. Obama blames the United States. President Barack Obama attended the climate talks last week, where he said the United States was at least partly to blame for the life-threatening damage bought on by global climate change.
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