Any global climate change agreement reached in Paris next month will be legally binding and have a concrete impact, France’s President and Foreign Minister said yesterday, reacting to US comments that questioned the status of the accord.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted as telling Wednesday’s Financial Times that December’s agreement was “definitively not going to be a treaty”.

Mr Kerry’s remarks drew a stern response from French President Francois Hollande, who was attending a European Union-African summit on migrants in Malta.

“If the agreement is not legally binding, there won’t be an agreement, because that would mean it would be impossible to verify or control the undertakings that are made,” he said.

If the agreement is not legally binding, there won’t be an agreement

Mr Kerry’s French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, said yesterday that, unlike previous negotiations, the Paris talks were not just “hot air” and Mr Kerry was perhaps “confused”.

“The fact that a certain number of dispositions should have a practical effect and be legally binding is obvious, so let’s not confuse things, which is perhaps what Mr Kerry has done,” said Mr Fabius, who spoke to Mr Kerry on Wednesday.

The legal status of a global climate agreement is one of the issues to be resolved when senior officials from almost 200 nations meet from November 30 to December 11 in the French capital.

They will try to rise above the collapse of the last major global climate-change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 and nail down a final agreement to limit global warming.

However, while the European Union and developing nations are urging an internationally binding text, others, such as the United States, want only national enforcement.

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