Major industrial and emerging economies agreed on a course to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in Durban, South Africa, over the next decade and beyond, as China, India and the US broke the deadlock that had stalled international climate talks.
Negotiations stretched past dawn yesterday, two days after the two-week UN-sponsored meeting was to end with delegates from almost 200 countries agreeing on drafting a new global emissions treaty by 2015.
Under the agreement, the majority of industrial nations currently bound to reduce emissions under the so-called Kyoto Protocol agreed to continue to support the protocol. beyond its expiry in 2012. Many are EU members who are already bound by EU law to make cuts that would comply with the Kyoto agreement.
Russia, Canada and Japan, who had earlier vowed not to recommit to Kyoto, came around to signing the new agreement that will take effect later.
China, the US and India, among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases not covered under the Kyoto agreement, pledged to join the pact that would take effect in 2020.
However, environmentalists and representatives from smaller countries were hardly impressed with the deal, saying the urgency of the problem of climate change demanded a shorter time line for action. They added, the deal could be easily ignored by major economies responsible for mass emissions.
Venezuela's chief negotiator, Claudia Salerno said it was a very bad agreement and urged fellow negotiators to push for a more robust deal during their next meeting.