Most oil majors still mum on Paris climate pact

Many of the world's major oil and gas companies are still grappling with how to respond to the international climate change agreement that 195 nations struck in Paris last month, interviews with several industry officials revealed.

Asked to discuss the U.N. deal to slash global greenhouse gas emissions -- which could threaten the very existence of the traditional energy industry -- top multinational oil corporations shared few details. Most were vague and some were nonresponsive to questions about how and whether the agreement will affect their long-term business plans.


Republicans still hunting a way forward on landmark climate deal

If Republicans are preparing to launch an offensive against the historic climate change agreement the Obama administration struck in Paris last month, they're being awfully quiet about it.

While die-hard congressional opponents of President Obama's climate policies did respond to the mid-December news that nearly 200 nations had accepted a long-sought deal, those statements were fewer and less vitriolic than expected -- especially considering that the White House was claiming the accord as a cornerstone of the president's climate legacy.


U.S. climate envoy praises China and France for Paris deal

Nearly a week after world leaders in Paris struck a deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Todd Stern, the United States' lead negotiator, is still getting standing ovations.

The lanky, bespectacled lawyer who has led the Obama administration's team at international climate negotiations for nearly seven years reflected on the build-up to the latest U.N. conference on climate change at the Brookings Institution yesterday. The room filled to standing room only quickly.


How Moniz pushed energy innovation onto Paris' main stage

PARIS -- When Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stepped up to the podium as the Paris climate talks entered their final week, the nuclear physicist did so with the confidence of a seasoned diplomat.

"At the risk of -- using a Brazilian analogy -- being a one-note samba," he said, "innovation is one of the foundations for increased ambition as one re-examines targets in the years ahead."

Moniz had been briefed by the U.S. negotiating team. And as the Paris talks rounded a corner, his statement in the press room of the Le Bourget conference center held the samba's three-step, two-quarter rhythm just fine.


White House says climate pact will unleash private cash in clean energy

A top adviser to President Obama predicted yesterday that the global climate accord reached in Paris five days ago would have "a profound impact" on private investments in clean energy, resulting in cheaper technologies able to compete with fossil fuels.

Brian Deese, Obama's climate aide, said the agreement will give confidence to companies and investors worldwide to launch products in emerging low-carbon markets driven by global commitments to slash emissions.


Mayors get down to the hard part of the Paris plan: making it work on their turf

Mayors and staff from dozens of international and U.S. cities flew to Paris these past two weeks to trumpet their own efforts to cut back emissions as delegates from nearly 200 countries hashed out an agreement to do so internationally. Now, with the final U.N. text signed, local leaders are trying to figure out how to build on global momentum back at home.

Green buildings or low-carbon public transportation won't take the world all the way to its emissions reductions goals -- but, city leaders say, they can get it partway.


Obama team held its ground, shaped deal around its wishes

PARIS -- The United States got almost everything it wanted in the landmark climate deal struck here this weekend.

The historic agreement by 195 countries handed President Obama an international legacy on global warming without crossing any red lines drawn by U.S. negotiators. And it allowed the administration to tell the American public that it had pushed China, India and other major developing nations to shoulder an unprecedented share of the responsibility for cutting emissions.

But environmentalists are divided on whether U.S. muscle helped broker the strongest practicable deal or whether it bullied smaller countries and lost an opportunity to cut carbon to the extent that scientists say will avoid environmental catastrophe. And Republicans are already calling the deal a "paper tiger" that a GOP president could walk away from.


How the world solved the 'shall' crisis and reached a new climate accord

LE BOURGET, France -- Before America would join its first-ever global climate change accord, before the gavel would fall and the cheers and the tears and applause, before top U.S. negotiator Todd Stern would dance the night away with his staff at a Paris nightclub, there was a word to be fixed. Buried on the 36th line of the 21st page of the agreement was the word "shall." The U.S. team insisted it was a clerical error and demanded that the French conference president fix it to "should." Or, they said, they'd walk.

"The bottom line is, when I looked at that, I said, 'We cannot do this, and we will not do this. And either it changes, or President Obama and the United States will not be able to support this agreement,'" Secretary of State John Kerry told ClimateWire after the evening's drama.

A thesaurus might describe those words as synonyms, but in a U.N. climate agreement they are anything but. The way they were being used in this particular section -- "developed country Parties shall continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emissions targets. Developing country Parties should continue enhancing their mitigation efforts" -- could have serious repercussions.


Rules for ship, airplane emissions left out of Paris deal

After 195 nations agreed to commit nearly all of the world's countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, heads of state praised the accord and the people who made it happen.

President Obama said the deal "sends a powerful signal," deeming it a possible "turning point for the world." Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called the final version balanced and long-lasting, and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said "the nations of the world have shown what unity, ambition and perseverance can do."

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Corporations change their tone on climate deal

LE BOURGET, France -- By 9:30 a.m. local time Wednesday, two dozen junior staff working for a group called We Mean Business were squeezed around folding tables in a meeting room a stone's throw from U.N. climate negotiations. The hours were speeding toward today's flexible deadline for 196 nations to reach a deal aimed at halting the growth of carbon dioxide emissions and rebuilding the world economy around low-carbon energy. Later that morning, the squad from We Mean Business -- an umbrella group representing some of the world's largest multinational corporations -- would fan out across this sprawling tent city northeast of Paris. This was one of their last-ditch efforts to get international negotiators to include language in a final document that sets a long-term goal of decarbonizing the world economy.


The president's deal-shaper takes the stage in climate talks

LE BOURGET, France -- Todd Stern doesn't mind being the bad guy. The Obama administration's special envoy for climate change said he knows personal attacks come with the territory of pushing often-unpopular U.S. positions before the United Nations. Over the nearly seven years Stern has held the job, he has borne the brunt of the global environmental community's frustration with American climate change policy. If the criticisms weigh on him, he doesn't let it show.


A tricky issue -- finding the right phrase to cover a seemingly familiar one

LE BOURGET, France -- In public, climate negotiators are fighting over how "legally binding" a U.N. climate agreement will be. In private, they're fighting over the words "shall implement." Four days into global negotiations here, the battle over the legal bindingness of an eventual accord continues to rage on, while also sparking heavy public confusion. That, analysts say, is because so many people are using the same phrase but loading it with different meanings.


India's position becomes a challenge as substantive climate talks on finances begin

LE BOURGET, France -- For India, it all comes down to money. The world's fourth-largest greenhouse gas emitter plays perhaps the most pivotal role of all 196 countries at U.N. climate change negotiations here. With China now moving steadily toward taking serious responsibility for its skyrocketing emissions, all eyes are now on India to see how it will play its cards.


Obama defends climate diplomacy, backs aid for islands

LE BOURGET, France -- Departing Paris after two days of shoring up support for a new global climate agreement, President Obama said France's decision to host nearly 200 countries just two weeks after deadly terrorist attacks showed a "remarkable display of resolve." And he hit back against those who criticized spending time on climate change at a time when national security threats loom large. "Great nations can handle both," he said.


World leaders open Paris climate talks

LE BOURGET, France -- The biggest political moment in climate change history has arrived. Four years of planning, debating and hyping U.N. climate change negotiations came to a head this morning in this tightly guarded tent city on the outskirts of Paris as French President François Hollande officially opened the talks before 140 heads of state and thousands of others eager to see a new global accord.