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1.5C goal on the line as countries gear up for key climate talks

PARIS, France — Facing record-shattering temperatures and a geopolitical tinderbox, countries are scrambling to lay the groundwork for crucial UN climate talks next month tasked with salvaging global warming goals laid out in the landmark Paris deal.

Ministers meet next week in the United Arab Emirates to grapple with flashpoint issues, including the future of fossil fuels and financial solidarity between rich polluters and nations most vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change.

World leaders meeting in Dubai for the COP28 summit between November 30 and December 12 will also have to respond to a damning progress report on the world's commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The 2015 deal aims to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius since the pre-industrial era and preferably a safer 1.5C. 

The results are already in on that "global stocktake": the world is far off track.

"The challenge we face is immense," incoming COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber acknowledged in October.

Keeping the Paris goals in reach needs an enormous collective effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions this decade. 

But that may be even more challenging in a world roiled by geopolitical storms, with conflict between Israel and Hamas adding to tensions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, United States-China rivalry and a mounting debt crisis. 

This year has seen a catalogue of climate extremes and the highest global temperatures in human history, stoked by the El Nino weather phenomenon that is warming temperatures.

That may serve to focus minds, making clear that the dangerous changes to Earth's fragile life support systems are already in motion.

The question is whether countries perceive climate change as a "collective threat", Alden Meyer of think tank E3G told AFP. 

The climate talks, which will kick off with a two-day world leaders summit, are expected to be the biggest ever, with predictions of 80,000 attendees. 

Observers have raised concerns that eye-catching initiatives on the sidelines of the meeting could obscure the main negotiations, which this year should reflect the poor performance on the Paris goals.

"The risk is that we will be sold a whole raft