LIMA: United Nations members pressed ahead on Sunday with a vision for a historic pact to defeat climate change by adopting a format for national pledges to cut Earth-warming greenhouse gases.
At a marathon conference in Lima, they also approved a blueprint to guide negotiations for the deal due to be sealed in Paris in December 2015.
But agreement came after a bitter dispute flared anew, requiring major compromise that campaigners said pointed to a mountain of work ahead.
“The document is approved,” Peru’s Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal announced in the small hours, to wild cheers from exhausted delegates.
The annual round of talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had been scheduled to end on Friday evening, after 12 days.
Instead, it overran by 32 hours, an exceptional delay even in the tradition of the notoriously fractious UNFCCC meetings.
The hard-fought agreement —dubbed the Lima Call for Climate Action—sets down the foundations for what is envisioned to be the most ambitious agreement in environmental history.
Due to take effect in 2020, it would for the first time bind all the world’s nations into a single arena for curbing heat-trapping carbon gases that drive dangerous climate change.
Its aim is to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, averting potentially catastrophic damage to Earth’s climate system by the turn of the century.
At its core is a roster where all nations will enter voluntary commitments to reduce their carbon emissions.
But the Lima deal came at the price of a compromise to bridge a deep rift between rich and poor countries.
In the face of opposition from China, it stripped out demands for extensive information about the pledges and tougher scrutiny to see if, jointly, they close in on the two degrees Celsius target.
No obligation for rich nations
The document does not oblige rich nations to outline aid for poorer countries in their pledges, as the developing world had insisted.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who will chair the December 2015 finale in Paris, said the Lima agreement had exorcised traumatic memories of the 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen.
That meeting had also aimed at a ground-breaking climate treaty but ended a near fiasco in a similar welter of infighting.
“The ghost of Copenhagen is fading, the hope of success in Paris is nearing,” Fabius said.
Campaigners for the environment and development said the troubled UN process was still on the road, but the squabbles had exposed the problems it would face next year.
“The results in Lima are mediocre, but this is not a surprise,” said Sebastien Blavier of Greenpeace France.