November 29, 2015 / 9:50 AM / 3 years ago

U.N. climate deal 'quite close': Latvian president

RIGA (Reuters) - World leaders are “quite close” to reaching a deal to fight climate change when they meet in Paris from Monday, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Europe’s first Green party head of state, said, adding any deal should be legally binding.

Protesters hold a banner in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during a rally ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, known as the COP21 summit, in Sydney's central business district, Australia November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Vejonis urged participants at the U.N. summit in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 to avoid repeating the failure of the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, which he attended as environment minister.

“I hope that in Paris all countries’ leaders will agree on this legally binding document,” he told Reuters.

Asked about opposition from some countries including the United States to a legally binding treaty, he said: “The final decision will take until probably Dec. 11-12 but it seems that all countries understand, including the U.S., that there are goals that they want to reach during the next years and all countries are reducing emissions.

“It means we are quite close to such an accord and a new Kyoto agreement, which would be a Paris agreement, hopefully will be reached,” he told Reuters, referring to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that set mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions for industrialized countries.

France said on Saturday almost all governments had outlined plans for fighting global warming beyond 2020 in a step towards resolving obstacles to an agreement at the summit.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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