10 Things To Know About The U.N. Climate Talks In Paris

A piece of ice floats in Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.

A piece of ice floats in Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Mario Tama/Getty Images hide caption

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Leaders from around the world will converge on Paris beginning Nov. 30 for the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference. The two-week event is designed to allow countries the chance to come to an agreement on stifling climate change.

Below are 10 questions and answers that should better prepare you for the conference and what to expect during and after its completion.

1. What’s at stake and why should I care?

It’s no exaggeration to say that what happens in Paris will affect the future of the planet. Greenhouse gas emissions keep going up, and scientists say that continuing with business as usual will produce rapid and devastating warming. This won’t just be bad news for polar bears and beach front homeowners. Unchecked warming means that dependable food and water supplies could be disrupted, dangerous pathogens could spread to new areas, and rising seas could remake maps. What’s more, extreme weather, plus worse droughts and more fierce wildfires, could become increasingly common. Security experts even worry that scarce and shifting resources could lead to violence.

2. What needs to happen to stop climate change?

Many nations want a Paris agreement that will signal a long-term goal of net ZERO emissions in the second half of this century. That doesn’t mean actually producing zero greenhouse gas emissions. But it does mean producing no more than the planet can absorb without raising temperatures. Doing this would mean a dramatic transformation of the world’s entire energy system, turning away from fossil fuels to other options like wind, solar, and nuclear power. The task is absolutely staggering—but scientists say it can be done, if the political will is there.

3. Well, is there really the political will to do all this?

UN watchers say the stars are aligned like never before. Before the summit, all countries—rich and poor—were asked to come forward with their own voluntary pledges for how they would aid the global fight against climate change. Over 150 countries have submitted national plans to the UN, and that in and of itself is a huge deal. Some nations say how they’ll cut emissions, while others pledge to do things like preserve forest cover or use more clean energy. Independent experts have calculated that if the world is currently on track for warming of about 4.5 degrees Celsius, these pledges would reduce that to about 2.7 to 3.7 degrees—which is real progress, before the Paris summit even starts.

4. What does the Paris agreement really need to have in it?

The goal of Paris is to produce a short, simple agreement – maybe a dozen pages –that will satisfy nearly 200 nations. Here’s what some observers think are key elements for a credible, ambitious plan forward:

  • Countries need to agree to come back every few years to increase their pledges and keep doing more and more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • The UN must have a rigorous system of accountability and transparency to make sure nations will actually keep their promises
  • The poorest countries of the world need support to both adapt to a warming world and to adopt new, low-carbon energy technologies

5. There’s talk of a 2 degree Celsius warming limit. Will this agreement hit that target?

That target comes from an international consensus 5 years ago, when nations agreed to limit warming to just about 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times. The thinking was that this would avert the worst effects of climate change. But no one thinks Paris will get the world that far. Instead, the aim of Paris is to come up with an agreement that requires countries to make increasingly ambitious efforts to combat global warming over time, to put the world on track to meet that target in the future.

6. Rich and poor countries are all part of this thing, but will rich countries have to do more?

There’s a lot of tension between the developed world and the developing world when it comes to climate change. Some developing countries such as India say they’re in no position to commit to an absolute reduction in greenhouse gases when they’re trying to bring economic advancement to millions of people who currently live in poverty. They need a supply of energy, and lots of it. What’s more, poorer nations want financial compensation if they’re going to agree to do things like preserve rainforests that will suck up carbon dioxide. They note that developed nations chopped down their own trees long ago and have burned enormous amounts of fossil fuels, but now they’re being told they can’t do the same—so they think the developed world should pay up. So-called “financing” issues will be a major hurdle that negotiators will have to clear in Paris.

7. How is the UN trying to make this deal happen?

Basically, for two weeks, they’re going to sequester a bunch of diplomats in a conference center outside of Paris. There’s been years of preparation leading up to this conference, and organizers expect tens of thousands of people to gather. Besides the delegates and diplomats there to do the actual wrangling, tons of businesses, activist organizations, and scientists will be there as well. While some outside events may be curtailed because of the recent terror attacks, the negotiations should go on as scheduled.

8. But hey, hasn’t the UN been trying to rein in greenhouse gas emissions for two decades?

It’s certainly true that past efforts have had serious shortcomings. Top emitters like the United States refused to join the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and it didn’t include any developing countries, like China. Then the 2009 Copenhagen summit ended in a shambles, with a weak agreement thrown together at the last minute by politicians who didn’t want to leave the talks with nothing. But things are different this time. The fact that almost all countries have submitted voluntary pledges shows that governments feel pressure to participate. Both the United States and China have taken a leadership role. And major public figures like Pope Francis have been urging action, saying there’s a moral duty.

9. What are the big fights going on in the negotiations?

Besides arguing over how much rich nations should pay the poor, there’s some nations that simply are not excited about a zero carbon future. Oil and gas producing countries, for example, aren’t so keen to leave their valuable assets in the ground. Another hot-button issue is “loss and damage.” That’s the idea that there should be some mechanism to compensate the citizens of places that simply cannot adapt to climate change–for example, small island states that could disappear under rising seas.

10. What if Paris ends with a whimper?

Scientists say that delaying action is just going to make changes harder and more expensive in the future, and that really the world should have started this transformation decades ago. If reliance on fossil fuels continues and produces unrestrained climate change, experts predict dramatic shifts in our familiar maps and weather patterns. Computer simulations show that New York would have the climate of Miami and melting ice would flood major cities around the world. Poor countries would be the hardest hit by a changing world, as they have the fewest resources to adapt.

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Top Stories: World Climate Summit Opens; Turkey Firm On Russian Jet

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— Turkey Says It Will Not Apologize For Downing Of Russian Jet.

— 147 World Leaders Gather In Paris For U.N. Climate Conference.

— Why Negotiators At Paris Climate Talks Are Tossing Kyoto Model.

And here are more early headlines:

Suspect In Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting To Appear In Court. (AP)

Obama Visits Bataclan Theater, One Site Of Paris Attacks. (CNN)

U.S. Embassy In Afghanistan Warns Of Attack Threat In Kabul. (U.S. Embassy, Kabul)

First Officer Trial Begins Today In Freddie Gray Slaying. (Baltimore Sun)

Heavy Snow, Ice To Pile Up In Central U.S. Wintry Storm. (NBC)

Pope Francis In Africa Calls For Peace Between Christians And Muslims. (Reuters)

2 Israelis Convicted In Burning Death Of Palestinian. (Telegraph)

China Issues Alert For Very Dangerous Smog. (Phys.Org)

It’s Cyber Monday, A Huge Event For Online Retailers. (L.A. Times)

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Songs We Love: Daniel Caesar, 'Death & Taxes'

Daniel Caesar.
4:00

Daniel Caesar. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Pilgrims Paradise.

Courtesy of the artist

There’s an uncertainty, unshakable at first sight, which comes with saving yourself from someone you love — that sliver of doubt about whether your choice was the right one. Daniel Caesar is a Toronto-native who left his home while in the 11th grade, after a fight with his parents over faith. His new EP, Pilgrim’s Paradise, follows the now-20-year-old, R&B singer-songwriter facing the harsh reality that comes with the decision to leave familiarity in order to find one’s self. As on his prior EP, Praise Break, Caesar’s impassioned vocal clout on Paradise captures you instantly.

The stand-out track, “Death & Taxes,” features Caesar battling with himself, and with God, for abandoning his faith. “Surely my sins have found me out/ God rest my soul, but show me out/Surely my sins have found me out/ Spit on my grave, but kiss me now,” he opens the song, referencing scriptures while pleading for love. Produced by Matthew Burnett and Jordan Evans, “Death & Taxes” is lead by plucking of the blues guitar, and that tradition’s idea of a ballad. Through the devastation, his only comforts are the “two things in this life that are sure.”

Pilgrim’s Paradise EP is now out on Soundcloud.

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Teddy Abrams: Tiny Desk Concert

November 30, 20159:03 AM ET

If we’re relying on the younger generation to help boost interest in classical music, look no further than Teddy Abrams. The 28-year-old pianist, clarinetist, conductor and composer has just begun his second season as music director of the Louisville Orchestra and he’s brimming with ideas on what to do with Bach, Beethoven and music made today.

For his first week on the job in Louisville, Abrams played jazz piano in the streets and took his orchestra players into nightclubs and African-American churches. PBS made a web series on his first season. Earlier this year, he put two first symphonies on the same program — Brahms‘ First and a debut symphony by Sebastian Chang, a composer still in his 20s — just to gauge audience reaction. Abrams filled the hall by giving out free tickets to first-time symphonygoers. He was happy to hear that many of them liked the new piece best, saying they appreciated hearing the composer introduce it onstage.

Abrams doesn’t treat composers like museum exhibits to be handled with white gloves. For this Tiny Desk performance, Adams decided to begin the opening movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30 with a short improvisation, noting that the great composer was known for riffing at the piano for hours on end.

The set opens and closes with tunes by Abrams himself. The first, “Big Band,” swirls with jazz history. Hints of Thelonious Monk fly by, along with tips of the hat to the stride style from the early 20th century. Abrams ends with a bluesy number, “The Long Goodbye,” describing it as a slow ballad halfway between “My Funny Valentine” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” How fascinating it will be to watch him as he continues to delight and challenge audiences.

Set List

  • Abrams: “Big Band”
  • Abrams: Improvisation/Beethoven: Sonata No. 30 in E, Op. 109, I. Vivace, ma non troppo
  • Abrams: “The Long Goodbye”

Credits

Producers: Tom Huizenga, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Suraya Mohamed; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Julia Reihs; Production Assistant: Kate Drozynski; Photo by Jun Jun Tsuboike/NPR

For more Tiny Desk Concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

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Turkey Says It Will Not Apologize For Downing Of Russian Jet

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday. Virginia Mayo/AP hide caption

toggle caption Virginia Mayo/AP

Saying his country will not apologize for downing a Russian war plane, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu struck a defiant note after meeting with his NATO allies.

The Associated Press reports that Davutoglu said his country was simply defending its airspace last week when two of its F-16s fired at a Russian Sukhoi SU-24.

“No Turkish prime minister or president will apologize … because of doing our duty,” Davutoglu said after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday, according to the AP. “Protection of Turkish airspace, Turkish borders is a national duty, and our army did their job to protect this airspace. But if the Russian side wants to talk, and wants to prevent any future unintentional events like this, we are ready to talk.”

Reporting from Moscow, NPR’s Corey Flintoff reports the incident has chilled relations between the two countries. In response, Corey reports, Russia has announced a series of new sanctions. He filed this report for our Newscast unit:

“Russian officials are announcing the details of Russia’s sanctions against Turkey. Russian tourists are being advised not to travel to Turkey, a move that could cost Turkey several billions of dollars a year.

“Turkish construction companies will be banned from bidding for contracts in Russia.

“Some time after the first of the year, Russia will ban many types of agricultural imports and other products from Turkey. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has refused to meet with Turkish President Erdogan during the climate summit in Paris.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Davutoglu called on Russia to reconsider the sanctions to avoid damaging close and long-term economic ties.

The paper adds:

“Stoltenberg backed Turkey’s right to defend its territory, but repeated his calls for calm and dialogue between Russia and Turkey.

“‘What we saw last week was not the first violation of Turkish airspace by Russian planes,’ he said. ‘Our focus now is on de-escalating the situation, calming tensions.’

“The Kremlin has so far signaled that nothing short of an apology will suffice before ties can be mended. Ankara, on the other hand, maintains that Moscow forced it to take strike down a the jet by repeatedly violating Turkish airspace during its bombing campaign in Syria since early October.

“Still, Turkey has responded with steps to try to de-escalate the situation, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing ‘sadness’ numerous times, but refusing to apologize.”

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2 Men Wearing Military Fatigues: Terrorists Or Filmmakers?

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One was wearing a gas mask, and they appeared to have assault rifles. The California Highway Patrol shut down the freeway. The threat was eased when the young filmmakers surrendered.

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First Listen: Tom Jones, 'Long Lost Suitcase'

Tom Jones' new album, Long Lost Suitcase, comes out Dec. 4.
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Tom Jones’ new album, Long Lost Suitcase, comes out Dec. 4. Harry Borden/Courtesy of the artist. hide caption

toggle caption Harry Borden/Courtesy of the artist.

Tom Jones bills his newest album as a companion to his autobiography, Over The Top And Back. And were you to judge the facts of his life based exclusively on the Ethan Johns-produced, American-style roots music that makes up Long Lost Suitcase, you’d be hard-pressed to discover that the life lived was that of a 75-year-old from Wales who’s ranked among the planet’s most popular singers of standards and schlock, a heartthrob to a worldwide army of fans. Then again, for male singers of Jones’ generation, Elvis Presley was a hell of a drug.

The King casts a long, dark shadow on Jones’ Long Lost Suitcase, most obviously via a cover of Gillian Welch‘s “Elvis Presley Blues,” in which the night of Elvis’ death is recounted as a memory of a time when the Memphis boy was a budding God who “shook it like a chorus girl, shook it like Harlem Queen.” This line strikes an obvious chord with Jones’ own life, which has featured its own proclivity to shake it in Vegas. As expected, Jones’ voice here is nothing less than the grand gallop of a knowing show pony, yet Johns bathes it in the tremolo feedback of a guitar, a classic rock ‘n’ roll drone. This isn’t just an abstraction of a blues. It’s also a hyperbaric chamber — especially when Elvis’ tale mutates into John Henry’s and, though the hero beats the steam-drill, Jones closes by asking, “What’s wrong with me?” Could you sense the singer’s tears flood his breaking voice there at the end? Has the forward march of pop and technology and time finally caught up with the nature of the “shake”?

None of these questions could usurp Jones’ class, nor Johns’ expert handling of it. This is how songs by Lonnie Johnson (the smooth “Tomorrow Night”), Willie Dixon (a swampy “Bring It On Home”), Little Willie John (a version of “Take My Love” that sounds as if it were recorded at Chess) and Hank Williams Sr. (a campfire hoot of “Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To Do?”) evolve into Dave Van Ronk (the stately “He Was A Friend Of Mine”), The Rolling Stones (a bluegrass read of “Factory Girl”) and William Bell (“‘Til My Back Ain’t Got No Bone”). Eventually, the album even makes way for the relative modernity of songs by Los Lobos, Welch and — hell, why not — The Milk Carton Kids. Exquisitely chosen and masterfully interpreted, they all feel of a piece.

Long Lost Suitcase closes with “Raise A Ruckus,” one of those songs whose melody and many verses have been wandering the colonies since America-bound Brits of English, Irish, Scottish and, yes, Welsh persuasions first landed here in the 1600s and 1700s. Amid the strings and banjos, Jones brings the song his big boom of a voice. Is it reclaiming anything? Absolutely not. It’s simply a hearty acknowledgement that it’s part of his story, too.

First Listen: Tom Jones, ‘Long Lost Suitcase’

Cover for Long Lost Suitcase

Opportunity To Cry

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  • From: Long Lost Suitcase
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Honey, Honey

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  • From: Long Lost Suitcase
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Bring It On Home

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  • From: Long Lost Suitcase
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Everybody Loves A Train

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Elvis Presley Blues

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  • From: Long Lost Suitcase
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He Was A Friend Of Mine

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Factory Girl

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  • From: Long Lost Suitcase
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I Wish You Would

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Tomorrow Night

  • Artist: Tom Jones
  • From: Long Lost Suitcase
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Raise A Ruckus

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In Indiana, Raising The Bar Raises Questions About Special Education

Girl reaching for tree branch but can't keep up with friends.

LA Johnson/NPR

A generation ago, a high school diploma could open doors, especially to well-paying, manufacturing jobs. But today, with technology radically reshaping the U.S. economy, many of those doors have closed. The high school diploma is as important as ever — but as a stepping stone to a higher degree, no longer as a destination.

That’s one reason Indiana lawmakers are re-writing their state’s graduation requirements. They want to make the path to a diploma more challenging and the diploma itself more valuable. Changes could include requiring students to take more math credits and a broader range of electives. The requirements would also apply to all students, and that’s raising concern that some kids simply wouldn’t be able to meet them.

Nash Huffman already struggles to keep up under the current system. He’s a freshman at Noblesville High School just outside of Indianapolis. Nash has Down syndrome and an individualized education plan. That means he splits his time between a general education classroom and working individually with a special education teacher. But, according to his mother, Jan, now that Nash is in high school, he’s expected to do the same work at roughly the same pace as everyone else.

“You can’t modify the work,” she says. “You can accommodate the work, which is very different.”

Nash struggles mainly in his math and science classes. After school one day, he and his parents meet me at the public library to talk. He’s already had a full day and is tired. Later, it’s back home to meet with a math tutor.

“Earth Space Science is driving me crazy,” Nash says. Why?

“Because it’s real.”

In Indiana, Nash must meet the same learning standards as other students and the same graduation requirements if he wants a diploma. He’s currently working toward the state’s General Diploma, which requires two years of math, including Algebra 1. But Nash’s dad, Jeff, says his son isn’t ready to take that class, so he’s in another, remedial math class to help him prepare.

“He’s got a math test tomorrow, pre-algebra, and he’s working hard on it. But he doesn’t get any credit for it,” Jeff says.

That’s because it’s not approved to fulfill any of the state’s high school math requirements. At this rate, the Huffmans worry that Nash will have a hard time completing the four math credits he needs to graduate. And, if the proposed changes are adopted, students could be required to complete even more — three to four years of math. Not credits. Years. Jeff says that would likely prevent his son from graduating.

“For a lot of folks with developmental and intellectual disabilities, that math comes, but it comes at a much slower pace,” Jeff says. “At this accelerated pace, you fail one class and, all of a sudden, you’re not going to get a diploma or you’re going to have to double up.”

The Huffmans are advocating for the needs of special education students as the state considers these new graduation requirements. In addition to requiring more math classes, the proposals include increased credits overall and focused electives that help a child find a career path or higher education interest — all things the Huffmans say could be tough for some special education students.

Jason Bearce, Indiana’s Associate Commissioner for Higher Education, helped write the new requirements. He says his team consulted with special education experts about how these vulnerable students could meet them.

“Some of the experts that we talked to think that the vast majority of the special education population could earn these diplomas the same as they could today,” Bearce says.

Not only that, Bearce believes that one of the proposals would be especially beneficial for special education students, including Nash: a requirement to get workforce experience or technical training.

“We would argue that, to the extent possible, if we can equip students, whether they’re special education or not, with some very practical employability skills but also give them an opportunity to experience a workplace that they may be well suited for early on, that might increase the likelihood that they’re going to be able to find meaningful employment,” Bearce says.

In Indiana, the only option for a student who can’t currently meet the requirements for a General Diploma is a Certificate of Completion. It’s not the same, and many parents say they want their child to have the opportunity to apply for jobs with nothing less than a diploma.

“There are always going to be some students that, no matter what that bar is, they’re going to have a hard time meeting it,” Bearce says. “Though we want to do everything we can to make sure they earn a diploma, there are always going to be students, as there are today, who need to graduate with their certificate.”

During this re-write, Bearce says, he’d like to see the Certificate of Completion carry more weight. That way students who earn one would leave high school with the right set of skills and knowledge to enter the workforce or school.

Not every state makes its special education students follow the same graduation guidelines as general ed students. In some states, Nash’s remedial math classes would count toward a math credit rather than just preparing him for one that actually counts.

In fact, the graduation requirements for students with special needs vary remarkably across the country. Twenty states and the District of Columbia, including Indiana, have the same requirements for all students. Among the other 30, some require nearly the same courses while others allow a special education student to bypass many traditional requirements.

For example, in states like Idaho and Minnesota, the requirements for a student with special needs vary greatly from the requirements for general education students. In these states, the special needs student receives a specific graduation plan that is created within their individualized education plan.

Sheryl Lazarus, a senior research associate at the National Center for Educational Outcomes, has studied the effectiveness of adjusting graduation requirements for students with special needs.

“It’s always really, really important to think about the characteristics of the kids with disabilities,” Lazarus says. “Most kids with disabilities don’t have significant cognitive impairment.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only about 13 percent of students receiving special education services have cognitive disabilities. The majority have learning disabilities or speech or language impairments and are able to meet graduation requirements.

“So often kids can really surprise you when you give them the opportunity to have high-quality instruction,” Lazarus says. “Kids with disabilities may need some scaffolding … but getting them access to the curriculum and things they need they can just so surprise us. And it’s a concern when states have expectations that are very, very different for their kids with disabilities than for their other students.”

But what about students like Nash, who fall into that small 13 percent with cognitive disabilities?

“We’ve never sat here and said that Nash is absolutely, positively some kind of wonder kid with Down Syndrome, that he’s going to be able to earn that high school diploma,” his father, Jeff, says. “But what we’ve always fought for is for him to have the opportunity to try.”

As Nash struggles through Earth Space Science, he says he’s not sure where he wants to work when he’s done with school. But he’s positive he wants to rent his own apartment and share it with his two dogs and, someday, a girlfriend.

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Why Negotiators At Paris Climate Talks Are Tossing The Kyoto Model

A power-generating windmill turbine is seen in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris ahead of the COP21 World Climate Summit, which begins Monday.

A power-generating windmill turbine is seen in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris ahead of the COP21 World Climate Summit, which begins Monday. Christian Hartmann/Reuters /Landov hide caption

toggle caption Christian Hartmann/Reuters /Landov

Negotiators and heads of state from nearly 200 countries are meeting for the next two weeks in Paris to craft a new treaty to slow global warming.

It’s the 21st “Conference of the Parties” held by the United Nations to tackle climate change. One treaty emerged, in 1997, after the conference in Kyoto, Japan. That’s no longer in effect, and in fact, the Kyoto Protocol, as it’s known, didn’t slow down the gradual warming of the planet.

Now governments are ever more desperate to do something to slow warming — so much so that they’ve thrown out the model set in Kyoto and opted for a new approach in Paris.

Valli Moosa, a former climate negotiator from South Africa, says the main reason Kyoto failed to slow warming lies largely with who wasn’t included in the treaty. “You actually cannot have a meaningful agreement without China and the United States being part of it,” he says.

The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Kyoto treaty, so the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas emitter didn’t have skin in the game. And developing countries, including China and India, were not required to reduce emissions. Now those countries are becoming the biggest sources of greenhouse gases as their economies thrive. China, in fact, is now the world’s biggest emitter, and India isn’t far behind. Moreover, the Kyoto treaty had U.N. bureaucrats and negotiators setting goals for the participating countries to lower their greenhouse gases. Many countries didn’t make their targets; others dropped out. Economies were at stake, and few countries were comfortable marching to a U.N. beat.

So what negotiators are bringing to the table in Paris is an arrangement whereby each country is offering to reduce its own emissions by whatever amount it can manage. And everybody participates, not just developed countries.

Most nations arrive in Paris with a reduction target already in hand. What will be difficult is deciding who will pay how much to developing countries to build economies that won’t keep producing high emissions.

French negotiator Laurent Tubiana points out that the key to success is convincing governments that those economies can be “low-carbon,” and that this won’t be a bar to developing wealth. “How much I’m sacrificing for the sake of emissions reductions, that’s no more,” she says of the message that negotiators are pushing. “And now … the Chinese, even the Indians are really coming in. It’s about low-carbon economy.”

Previous attempts to replace the Kyoto treaty have failed. This new approach is voluntary, and most of the world has agreed theoretically to participate, which negotiators hope will sweeten things enough to get a deal. Still to be determined, however, is who will pay for this massive revolution in the world’s energy economy, and what strings will be attached to their largesse.

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147 World Leaders Gather In Paris For U.N. Climate Conference

President Obama, center, and Secretary of State John Kerry, right, attend the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, on Monday.

President Obama, center, and Secretary of State John Kerry, right, attend the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, on Monday. Thibault Camus/AP hide caption

toggle caption Thibault Camus/AP

Nearly 150 world leaders are gathered in Paris for what is being billed as a last chance summit to save the planet.

NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports that this is the biggest diplomatic gathering in France since 1948. Eleanor filed this report for our Newscast unit:

“French foreign minister Laurent Fabius welcomed the 147 world leaders and more than 45,000 participants as he opened the UN climate conference.

“It is the first time developing nations will also commit to reducing emissions. But they will rely on funding from richer countries.

“2015 is so far the hottest year on record. Scientists warn if nothing is done, the planet will suffer rising sea levels more floods, worsening drought, water shortages, storms and other catastrophic events.”

During his opening speech, President Obama said that “no nation — large or small, wealthy or poor — is immune” to the ills of climate change.

Obama nodded to the fact that the climate talks are being held with the backdrop of the Paris attacks. He said continuing with the talks was an “act of defiance” that “proves nothing will deter us” from “building a better future for our children.”

This is the last generation, Obama said, who can do something to curb climate change. He said the goal of this conference is not to find a “stop-gap solution” but “a long-term strategy that gives the world confidence in a low-carbon future.”

We’ll update this post with the latest, as news emerges from the summit.

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