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Friday, Dec 15, 2017
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Bonn climate talks end with progress despite U.S. stance

BONN, Germany — As the first glimmer of dawn appeared across the Rhine River, delegates stumbled out of an all-night negotiating session at this year's global climate talks, expressing satisfaction Saturday at the progress made toward creating a comprehensive rule book for fighting global warming.

The two-week meeting in Bonn, Germany, was billed as a "blue-collar" event designed to hammer out the technical details of the 2015 Paris climate accord. But fears had loomed beforehand that the administration of President Donald Trump, who rejects the Paris agreement, would seek to block any advances seen as counter to American interests.

In the end, most agreed that U.S. diplomats had engaged constructively, while delegations from several American states, cities and businesses were praised for committing themselves to the goals of the Paris agreement.

The role of spoiler almost fell to Saudi Arabia, which held up a final agreement for several hours over objections to a phrase it feared might allow for future levies on fossil fuels like oil.

"There has been positive momentum all around us," said Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

"We leave Bonn having notched up some notable achievements," Bainimarama said, citing agreements on agriculture, ocean protection, indigenous people's rights and the launch of a new system to help people in poor countries get insurance against the effects of climate change.

Many countries are already feeling the heat that is enveloping the globe, with dramatic floods, hurricanes and droughts across the world in recent months adding a sense of urgency to the talks.

Environmental groups expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the negotiations, while noting there's much still to do and little time left to ensure the Paris accord's goal of keeping global warming significantly below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit is met.

"The conference gets a grade of 'meets expectations,' " said Andrew Deutz of the Nature Conservancy, an Arlington, Va.-based environmental group. "We are still headed in the right direction, but since the U.S. took its foot off the accelerator, the risk of global climate action slowing down has increased."

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