World leaders are descending on Paris for the COP 21 climate conference. What are they trying to accomplish? Why is there tension between countries? WSJ's Jason Bellini and Gabriele Steinhauser report.

PARIS—World leaders on Monday vowed to finish a deal to curb greenhouse gases and overcome a thorny divide on financing, as they kicked off international climate talks against a backdrop of heavy security.

President Barack Obama called on governments to develop a long-term framework to cut greenhouse emissions, saying the time is coming when it will be too late. He pledged the U.S. would do its part to slow the warming of the planet, and urged other countries to “rise to this moment.”

“I’ve come here personally as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter to say that the U.S. not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,” Mr. Obama said.

At a heavily guarded airport complex just two weeks after terrorist attacks killed 130 people, other leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon underscored the urgency of addressing global warming in the two-week conference, dubbed the Cop 21.

Evidence of a long-standing divide quickly re-emerged. Developing countries said the richest nations that have emitted the most carbon dioxide must do more to finance a transition to greener energy and help prepare poor countries to stave off the early effects of a changing climate.


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  • Paris Climate Talks Face High Barriers and High Hopes (Nov. 27)
  • Clash for Obama Ahead of Paris Climate Change Summit (Nov. 27)

Developing countries want their highly industrialized peers to make good on pledges to mobilize $100 billion a year in public and private climate financing from 2020 onward. Some officials have warned they won’t support a deal in Paris that doesn’t deliver high levels of funding. Any agreement would require the consent of nearly 200 countries.

To help bridge the divide, several rich countries unveiled programs to boost funding. Germany, Norway and the U.K. said they would provide $1 billion a year until 2020 for payment based on emissions reductions from forests and improved land use.

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Bill Gates is launching a multi-billion-dollar initiative to accelerate clean-energy research and development. Without incentives to go green, he says "India will generally err on the side of development." WSJ's Bill Spindle reports.

Mr. Obama and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates unveiled a multibillion-dollar program involving 20 countries to boost green-energy research and development.

U.S. President Barack Obama, center, is welcomed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as French President François Hollande looks on at the World Climate Change Conference in Paris. ENLARGE
U.S. President Barack Obama, center, is welcomed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as French President François Hollande looks on at the World Climate Change Conference in Paris. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

Yet another commitment Monday—from Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland—would provide $500 million for projects in poorer countries via the World Bank.

Emerging economies made it clear that to conclude a deal in Paris, they want to see more progress in the 2020 goal and perhaps even more funding afterward.

“Developed countries should honor their commitment of mobilizing $100 billion each year before 2020 and provide stronger support to developing countries afterwards,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said, adding that Beijing would also help finance poorer countries through its own funding vehicle.

South African President Jacob Zuma said rich countries have a “historic responsibility” to at least meet the $100 billion target.

Just before officials gathered, India slammed an October estimate on how much financing rich countries have provided to poorer countries, saying the “methodologies were inconsistent.” The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which produced the estimate, sees India’s criticism as “misjudged and inaccurate,” according to Simon Buckle, head of climate change at the organization representing highly industrialized countries.

Ahead of the Paris talks, most of the countries involved submitted their own plans for curbing emissions of greenhouse gases linked to climate change or boosting the share of green energy after 2020.

An accord clinched in Paris would codify those national plans, part of an original goal to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

We are at the foot of a wall built from the sum of our egos, fears and resignation. But this wall is not insurmountable

—French President François Hollande

The current pledges are only likely to limit global warming to about 2.7 degrees, officials say, so the U.S., Europe and other countries want the Paris accord to require countries to renew their emissions targets every five years or so, helping shift the world toward the 2-degree goal over time.

“We are at the foot of a wall built from the sum of our egos, fears and resignation,” Mr. Hollande said as he opened the conference. “But this wall is not insurmountable.”

Mr. Obama and most other heads of state will leave the talks by Tuesday, but delegates will continue negotiations with the goal of wrapping up an agreement at the ministerial level by the end of next week.

The climate talks are taking place on the outskirts of a city still on edge in the wake of the deadly Paris terror attacks.

France has moved to secure the city, shutting down some external access points and thoroughfares Sunday and Monday. Helicopters whirred overhead in downtown Paris and soldiers were a more visible presence on the streets.

After arriving in Paris late Sunday night, Mr. Obama visited the Bataclan concert where gunmen killed at least 89 people on Nov. 13 hall to pay tribute to the victims. Mr. Obama stood in silence with Mr. Hollande and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo and each leader laid a single white rose in front of the building.


Write to William Horobin at and William Mauldin at

The Associated Press

FILE - This Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, file photo, shows a home for sale in Coral Gables, Fla. The National Association of Realtors releases, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, its October report on pending home sales, which are seen as a barometer of future purchases. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

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By JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Slightly more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in October, a modest rebound after two prior monthly declines. The figures add to evidence that the housing market has lost some of its momentum after rapid sales growth earlier this year.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 0.2 percent to 107.7 last month. The index has increased 3.9 percent over the past 12 months.

Healthy job gains and low mortgage rates boosted sales for much of the year, but rising home values and limited inventories have limited further growth in the closing months of 2015.

The Realtors reported last week that finalized sales have risen 3.9 percent from a year ago, even as buyers have fewer choices because the number of listings on the market has dropped 4.5 percent. A narrow selection of homes on the market has pushed up sales prices 5.8 percent from a year ago to a median of $219,600.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A lag of a month or two usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

The housing market had benefited from hiring that has cut unemployment to 5 percent, down from 5.7 percent a year ago. Average hourly earnings have improved 2.5 percent over the past year — that slight increase enhanced by low inflation. But wage growth has failed to match the rise in home values, forcing more would-be homebuyers to wait and save for a down payment.

Also aiding sales have been lower borrowing rates. Mortgage rates remain well below their historic average of 6 percent. The average, 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.95 percent last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

But the market is still recovering more than six years after the end of the Great Recession. Home sales have been uneven in different geographic regions. The number of signed contracts advanced in the Northeast and West, while dipping in the Midwest and South.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

Afghan refugees take a group picture after their arrival on a dinghy, with other refugees and migrants, from Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. The International Organization for Migration said almost 900,000 people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have entered Europe this year seeking sanctuary or jobs. More than 600,000 have entered through Greece, many after making the short sea crossing from Turkey. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Authorities in northwest Turkey on Monday rounded up some 1,300 asylum seekers and migrants allegedly preparing to make their way into Greece, Turkey's state-run news agency reported.

Some 750 migrants were detained in a pre-dawn sweep in the town of Ayvacik, in Canakkale province, which is a main crossing point to the Greek island of Lesbos, the Anadolu Agency reported. By the afternoon, authorities had detained 550 more people, some of whom were trying to hide in olive groves.

The move came a day after Turkey and EU leaders sealed a joint summit with a commitment to re-energize Turkey's long-stalled membership bid and bolster their resolve to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis.

It was not clear if the Monday's sweep was directly related to the Turkish commitment to help contain the flow of migrants and officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anadolu said the migrants were from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Four suspected smugglers were also detained in the sweep while four migrant boats and six boat motors were seized.

The migrants were put into buses and taken to a small, overcrowded detention center for foreigners awaiting deportation, the private Dogan news agency said.

During the sweep, authorities also discovered a body which had washed up on the shore, suspected to be that of a migrant.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.