Paris: Australia has "serious concerns" about a draft version of a climate change deal released in Paris, and has told the conference it is "deeply disappointed" that some areas have been weakened.
The comments came as a "high ambition coalition" – including the US, Europe and a little over 63 African, South American and island nations, but thus far not Australia - emerged in a bid to deliver an ambitious global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The the French hosts had earlier released a 29-page draft text that revealed that major areas of disagreements still remained after nine days of negotiations.
Speaking on behalf of a collection of non-European industrialised countries known as "the umbrella group", Australian lead negotiator Peter Woolcott said: "We are deeply disappointed at the weakening of several provisions."
He said the group wanted an ambitious agreement that motivated all countries and did not bind them into historic static groupings - a reference to the long-term divide between developed and developing nations.
"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," Mr Woolcott said.
Meanwhile, the new high ambition coalition, which is understood to have come together through a series of informal gatherings during the year, said it would push for the strongest deal possible.
"We will not accept a minimalist or bare bones agreement," Tony De Brum, minister of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands and chair of the group, said.
Mr De Brum said an ambitious treaty would include a goal of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees, have a clear pathway to a low-carbon future, five-yearly updates, a strong package of support for developing countries and aid of at least A$136 billion a year.
That Australia was not invited to be part of the so-called "coalition of ambition" was less a snub than a reflection that the US and EU were attempting to work with some developing countries in a bid to breakdown the still lingering rich-poor divide.
As members of the coalition addressed the world's media inside a packed conference room, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop was meeting Australian journalists outside.
She had earlier chaired a meeting of a the umbrella group, and met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on their behalf.
Mr Fabius identified the three political issues still to be worked out were climate funding for poorer nations, how differences in economic status were reflected in an agreement, and the overall ambition of what is trying to be achieved.
"I am still hopeful we are going to see an agreement where all countries, developed and developing, will play a role," Ms Bishop said.
"I think there is a very strong will for an agreement to conclude, and I think all parties are prepared to work throughout the night to ensure that will be achieved."
Some negotiators were preparing mattresses and extra provisions for what is expected to be marathon talks, likely to run past the Friday deadline.
Thomas Spencer, who heads the climate program at the French-based Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, said he feared the emergence of a new coalition that did not include emerging giants China and India could paint those countries - both vitally important for a deal - into a corner.
"I imagine that is being balanced by the US side, and they are saying to us 'we are seeing the Chinese everyday at minister level.'," he said.
Xie Zhenhua, China's chief climate envoy, later told the evening plenary session: "It is an open text and a balanced text."
Mr Spencer said all the options for an ambitious agreement were still in the text.
"I would say, procedurally, it is well positioned. If they had gone further it would have been too risky," Mr Spencer said.
"They [the French] harvested what was there and on some issues things are starting to be reasonably clear."
Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program of the World Resources Institute, said "all the elements for a strong and equitable agreement are still in the latest, shorter draft", but between 10 and 15 issues were yet to be resolved.
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US would double its annual A$555 million commitment to grant-based adaptation funds by 2020.
"It has been a major thing that developing countries have been asking for," Ms Morgan said.
But while progress edged forward on some fronts, they retreated on others. The EU criticised the omission from the draft of pollution from the shipping and air transport sectors - key industries that cross international boundaries.
"It is a step backwards," Miguel Arias Canete, the EU's commissioner for energy and climate change, said. "In Kyoto [Protocol], emissions from aviation and from ships were taken into account so...we will fight to recover it."
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