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Aust concerned over climate deal draft

Australia has “serious concerns” over the latest form of a global climate agreement, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warning of a challenging few days ahead in Paris.

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A new draft agreement was revealed on Wednesday at the United Nations climate change conference, with no clear landing point on key hurdles of finance, ambition and differentiation.

Ms Bishop warned the document was a long way from attracting her signature.

Australia’s environment ambassador Peter Woolcott – speaking on behalf a negotiating block of developed countries – told the conference the group had serious concerns about the text.

“We are deeply disappointed at the weakening of several provisions,” he said on Wednesday night.

“As we move forward we must avoid a situation where, in an effort to reach consensus, we strip the Paris outcome of its ability to be a genuine step change.”

It comes as the United States joined around 100 countries in a new alliance dubbed the high ambition coalition which vows to strengthen Wednesday’s draft.

Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum said the coalition comprised countries big and small, rich and poor and would not be trading off any demands.

“We will not accept a minimalist or barebones agreement,” he told media on Wednesday night.

The coalition is calling for five yearly reviews of country emissions pledges, adequate climate finance for poor countries and a clear pathway to a low-carbon future.

It also wants recognition of an ambition to limit global warming to 1.5C – below the 2C target accepted by most developed countries.

Australia isn’t in the coalition and Ms Bishop couldn’t confirm if it had been invited.

“I’ll have to check on that, we’ve got so many invitations to so many events and so many groupings,” she told reporters in Paris.

She remains optimistic 196 parties will walk away with a strong agreement at the end of the talks but warns it won’t be an easy road.

“Clearly, this is the beginning of the end of the negotiations and there’s still a lot of work to be done,” she said.

“Our negotiators are working through the night.”

There’s still disagreement on who should do what, with an option still in the draft agreement to hold only rich countries to account on action.

Australia opposes that option, calling for each country to do its part to curb global emissions.

“All countries need to take action and there should be a level playing field,” Ms Bishop said.

Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke gave the new draft a pretty disappointing report card, concerned about a lack of agreement over financing action against climate change.

“There’s a kind of deflating sense of disappointment because there was an expectation that we would have got a bit further on,” she told AAP in Paris.

But Climate Institute deputy chief executive Erwin Jackson said progress on other areas like technology transfer showed real commitment from countries to deliver an outcome.

The draft agreement includes the ingredients of an outcome in Paris that can further boost global action, he said.

Earlier, the foreign minister flagged Australia’s intention to sign onto a New Zealand-led initiative to boost transparency and integrity of international carbon markets.

Australia doesn’t use international units, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has flagged it as an option when domestic climate policies are reviewed in 2017.

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