Negotiators made breakthroughs in key areas of contention at the Cancun climate talks late on Friday, producing a draft text that commits all countries to step up their efforts to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius and leaves open the possibility of new commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
In a surprise move, as delegates were preparing for a gruelling overnight session as Mexican chairwoman Patricia Espinosa released draft texts of agreements approved by 50 countries that were charged with finding compromises to what many believed were becoming intractable positions. But the agreements fell well short of an overarching accord that could form the basis of a new treaty, and it remained unclear whether it would pass the full convention.
In an informal session aimed at giving countries the opportunity to object and spark further talks, Espinosa received a 75-second standing ovation and no objections. She then adjourned to begin a final debate that was expected to last well into the night.
''If this gets approved, we are much further than we thought we would be before coming to Cancun,'' said Wendy Trio, climate policy director for Greenpeace. ''We now await the response from countries and urge them to adopt it.''
Negotiators from 193 countries have had to marry vastly different approaches that were contained in the 1997 Kyoto agreement and the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, which resulted in non-binding emission pledges from countries such as the United States, China, India and Brazil that were not covered by Kyoto commitments.
The draft text refers to the commitment to extend Kyoto with a new round of emission-reduction targets for the post-2012 period. Japan and Russia had explicitly rejected such an approach, and Russia's objection was footnoted in the text. Canada had refused to provide a commitment to new Kyoto targets but never ruled it out. environment minister John Baird said earlier Friday that the government had not ''closed any doors'' as negotiators sought to find compromises to keep the talks alive.