UN negotiators reached a consensus on 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”.
The climate talks had hit a hurdle, with the developed and developing countries clashing over the latter should play in a new pact to fight global warming.
Disputes over climate aid for poor countries were also a bone of contention at the conference, which stretched almost a full day beyond its scheduled end time.
A similar situation was witnessed in 2011 at the Durban Conference of Parties (COP), where the discussions had continued till the third morning.
At the COP in the Poland capital, developed and developing nations have butted heads ever since the talks started on November 11.
The aim was to lay 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 such as 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 blame the West’s long emissions history for the peril faced by 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.
At the penultimate meeting, Ravi Shankar Prasad, heading the Indian delegation, had expressed concern over the “missing sense of urgency” and said, “We don’t have a road map on finances. The text does not address our concerns. It disturbs the balance that we are trying to strike.”
Claudia Salerno, heading the Venezuelan delegation, had said, “It is more than 30 hours that we have been discussing non-stop. We are small countries with small delegations. You need to respect our human rights and ensure that we as humans are not put through impossible physical limitations.”
Earlier, late on Friday evening, the group of Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) – which includes India, China, Saudi Arabia – had accused the European Union of seriously damaging the ‘confidence and trust’ in the process.