A package of documents was submitted to a marathon UN climate conference on Saturday that would set a new course for the global fight against climate change for decades to come.
South Africa's foreign minister and chairman of the 194-party conference, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told delegates that failure to agree after 13 days of work would be an unsustainable setback for international efforts to control greenhouse gases.
"This multilateral system remains fragile and will not survive another shock," she told a full meeting of the conference, which had been delayed more than 24 hours while ministers and senior negotiators labored over words and nuances.
There was no guarantee the package would be approved, and objections and amendments were submitted from the floor. The convention operates by consensus, and the package will not be put up for a vote.
"There is still a lot of work to be done," European Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said as she headed into the full plenary session where the deal was being presented. "Things are progressing."
Earlier as negotiations dragged on, some ministers and top negotiators left Durban with no assurance of an agreement. Hedegaard, drawn and fatigued after two nights with minimal sleep, warned that failure in Durban would jeopardize new momentum in acting against global warming.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the package of four documents, which were being printed as she spoke, were an imperfect compromise, but they reflected years of negotiations on issues that had plagued UN climate efforts.
The 100-plus pages would give new life to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, whose carbon emissions targets expire next year and apply only to industrial countries.