UN climate envoys clear hurdle in Warsaw

AFP , Saturday 23 Nov 2013

UN negotiators reached consensus Saturday on some of the foundations for an ambitious, global climate pact, modifying wording in a document that had threatened to derail talks in Warsaw.

In an open meeting, delegates adopted an altered text thrashed out during an hour-long emergency huddle in the Warsaw National Stadium where the talks were rapidly approaching their 24th hour of extra time.

The revised text, yet to be ratified by a joint plenary meeting of all parties, notably changed the word "commitments" for nationally-determined greenhouse gas emissions cuts, to "contributions".

Developed and developing nations have butted heads in the Polish capital ever since the annual round of talks started on 11 November, aimed at laying the groundwork for the new pact to be signed in Paris by December 2015.

It will be the first to bind all the world's nations to curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas.

A key point of contention was the opposition of emerging economies like China and India to any "commitments" of an equally binding nature to rich and poor states, without taking account of their history of greenhouse gas emissions.

Developing nations, their growth largely powered by fossil fuel combustion, blame the West's long emissions history for the peril facing the planet, and insist their wealthier counterparts carry a larger responsibility to fix the problem.

"Only developed countries should have commitments," Chinese negotiator Su Wei earlier told fellow negotiators. Emerging economies could merely be expected to "enhance action", he said.

The West, though, insists emerging economies must do their fair share, considering that China is now the world's biggest emitter of CO2, with India in fourth place after the United States and Europe.

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