PARIS—The U.S. on Wednesday said it would double financial grants for poor nations to protect themselves from the effects of climate change, seeking to build momentum toward an international deal to limit global warming with only days of negotiations left at a summit here.
A new draft of the agreement released Wednesday afternoon—after almost 10 days of talks among 195 nations—showed that some fundamental points remain up in the air.
Governments still haven’t decided by how much temperatures should be allowed to increase, how much money would be provided to poor governments to adapt to the effects of climate change and switch away from fossil fuels, and whether emerging economies will take on more responsibilities.
“There are three cross-cutting issues that must be the subject of negotiations in the coming hours,” said Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister who presides over the Paris talks.
Mr. Fabius wants officials to nail down the outlines of a political deal by Wednesday night. That, he said, would allow for a final text to be agreed to on Thursday and a new climate deal to be signed off on as planned on Friday.
By Wednesday afternoon, negotiators had whittled down the draft text to 29 pages, from 43 pages on Saturday, after eliminating some of the less contentious disputes.
For instance, the draft now says governments should assess every five years whether national pledges to limit emissions are enough to keep global warming within acceptable levels. It also includes new provisions on how rich countries can help poorer governments develop the know-how to deal with climate change.
How these efforts will be financed, however, is still unclear. Developed countries have promised to provide $ 100 billion in annual climate financing, from public and private sources, by 2020. Poor countries say this number needs to be increased in the coming decades—a commitment industrialized nations like the U.S. and European Union members are reluctant to make without emerging economies like China and India also chipping in.
The announcement by the U.S. to double aid to help poor countries adapt to the effects of climate change was a signal that rich governments will stick to their part of the deal. Annual grant funding the U.S. provides for poor countries to adapt to climate change would increase from $ 430 million a year to at least $ 860 million by 2020, a senior Obama administration official said.
“We will not leave the most vulnerable nations to quite literally weather the storm on their own,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech here.
Another fought-over area is the overall goal of the deal. United Nations scientists say that average temperatures must not increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from preindustrial levels. Otherwise, these scientists warn, rising sea levels as well as extreme droughts and storms could threaten livelihoods and food supplies.
But small-island states and other developing countries most at risk of climate change say they are doomed unless the temperature increase is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The EU and many other governments now back mentioning the 1.5 degree target in a final deal, opening the door to stepped-up emissions cuts further down the line and more financial help to the most-affected countries.
Such a reference, however, is still disputed by some governments, which argue that a 1.5 degree target wasn’t realistic given many countries’ growing energy needs. “The developed world will have to decide who will switch off the lights first,” said Prakash Javadekar, the environment minister of India.
Among the issues still in dispute is also a new unified system for measuring and reporting greenhouse-gas emissions that has been at the center of demands from the U.S. and the European Union.
Under existing climate deals, large emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil are classified as developing countries. That has shielded them from having to present detailed data on their emissions as well as the kind of stringent accounting checks that traditional developed countries are subjected to.
Mr. Javadekar insisted that India—along with other emerging economies such as China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia—would hold on to its status as a developing country under international climate deals. “Differentiation is the cardinal principle and differentiation has to be across all pillars” of any Paris deal, he said.
However, he signaled that there may be some room for flexibility, in which countries that are now richer than when the split was first established, could take on some more tasks. “Differentiation across all pillars can be well articulated, taking into account the present circumstances,” he said. “But that’s, I think, the hard negotiation part.”
Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks said she was optimistic that countries such as India would give in on some points. “They also know that they can’t stick to this position until the end,” she said.
Write to Gabriele Steinhauser at firstname.lastname@example.org and Matthew Dalton at Matthew.Dalton@wsj.com