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Technological advances that have reduced prices and improved efficiency of renewable energy have helped transform the politics around climate change since 2009 when an attempt to forge a global deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions failed, the U.N. climate chief said Thursday.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said countries were ahead of schedule in negotiating a landmark agreement on curbing greenhouse gases that can be adopted at a Paris summit in December.

"We're in a very, very different position to Copenhagen not just from a procedural point of view, but from many other points of view," Figueres told reporters during a visit to Australia.

Figueres, who became the U.N. climate chief in 2010 following the Copenhagen summit's failure to reach agreement on cutting emissions, said technological advances were the first of several factors that had created "a very changed political environment."

The price of solar panels has plummeted 80 percent since Copenhagen. Panels are also 40 percent more efficient, thanks to technologies that include Tesla batteries that can store solar electricity in homes. The cost of solar power was already the same or cheaper than power from the grid in at least 60 countries, she said.

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--- The Associated Press