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UN climate talks end with deal on curbing emissions

Climate negotiations in Warsaw drew to a close a day late on Saturday after wealthy and developing nations found a compromise on sharing responsibility for climate change and agreeing to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.


Wealthy and developing nations at UN climate talks in Warsaw agreed on Saturday to commit to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in response to climate change, with a final deal due to be signed in Paris in 2015.

China, India and Brazil led a charge for the West to recognise "differentiation" between developed and developing states when it came to taking responsibility for curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

The issue had split the participants into rich and poor camps. Wealthy nations won out late Saturday when the word "commitments" replaced the weaker "contributions" in a modified draft text, thus securing greater requirements from developing nations.

Under the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 only the most developed countries had to limit their emissions, one of the main reasons the United States refused to sign. The US had argued that rapidly growing economies like China and India, now heavy polluters in their own right, should share the economic burden of emissions limits.

A group calling itself the Like-Minded Developing Countries – which includes China and India as well as Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – had been the hold-outs in this year's talks. The group wanted emerging nations to be able to continue burning fossil fuels since alleviating poverty remained their priority, insisting that developed nations – which have been using greenhouse gases longer – bore a larger responsibility for fixing the problem.

The US and other developed nations, however, maintained that the main points of the agreement finalised in Paris in 2015 would be applicable to all. 

The agreement came nearly 24 hours into overtime, as the annual talks between almost 200 nations was supposed to end on Friday.

Troubled talks

“Just in the nick of time, the negotiators in Warsaw delivered enough to keep the process moving,” said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute think-tank.

Earlier, the stalled Warsaw talks had been looking increasingly hopeless. Before Saturday, negotiators had little to show after two weeks except for a deal on new rules to protect tropical forests.

Six leading environmental organisations had already abandoned the United Nations Climate Change Conference on Thursday, a day before the talks were due to end, declaring that the ailing talks were “on track to deliver virtually nothing”.

Questions of aid

Another contentious issue was the question of aid to be given to emerging nations to help them curb emissions and deal with the consequences of climate change. In 2009, developed nations pledged funding of up to US$ 100 billion a year starting in 2020, but they had been dragging their feet over the establishment of targets for 2013-19. A draft text urges developed nations to increase aid.

The talks have also produced a proposal for a "Warsaw mechanism", which would provide aid and expertise to developing nations suffering disastrous consequences of climate-change. Developing nations had insisted on a new mechanism even though developed nations had warned it would not receive any separate funding.


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