Climate deals advance global effort

Two weeks of United Nations climate talks ended Saturday with a pair of last-minute deals keeping alive the hop...


Two weeks of United Nations climate talks ended Saturday with a pair of last-minute deals keeping alive the hope that a global effort can ward off a ruinous rise in temperatures.

Delegates agreed to the broad outlines of a proposed system for pledging emissions cuts and gave their support for a new treaty mechanism to tackle the human cost of rising seas, floods, stronger storms and other expected effects of global warming.

The measures added momentum to the talks as United Nations members look toward a 2015 conference in Paris to replace the moribund Kyoto Protocol.

_I think this is what they needed to move the ball forward,_ said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy program at the World Resources Institute, _even if you can_t say that it provided a lot of new ambition._

The conference, known as the 19th annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, got underway two weeks ago in the shadow of the giant Philippine typhoon. The talks were attended by more than 10,000 people, including national delegations, journalists, advocates and, for the first time, business leaders.

The death and destruction brought by the Philippine storm helped to highlight the question of _climate justice._ Final agreement on Saturday was held up by a thorny dispute over a proposal by developing nations for the creation of a _loss and damage mechanism_ under the treaty. The United States, the European Union and other developed nations opposed the measure, fearing new financial claims.

Peace was restored when the parties papered over their differences, agreeing with the United States to nest the new instrument under an existing part of the treaty dealing with adapting to climate change, but saying they would review its status in 2016. Mohamed Adow, an activist with Christian Aid, said the deal showed that _countries have accepted the reality_ of the effects of climate change, but that _they seem unwilling to take concrete actions to reduce the severity of these impacts._

Ren__ Orellana of the Bolivian delegation, said: _It_s important that the loss and damage structure has finally been created. There_s a baby now, and we have to give him enough time to grow._

Mr. Orellana said the agreement would eventually grow to encompass things like technology transfer, capacity building and migration.

The United States hailed the agreement on calculating emissions reductions, which was along lines proposed by Todd D. Stern, President Obama_s climate envoy. Mr. Stern had called for each nation to make a public offer early enough to be evaluated for the Paris summit meeting. He argued that peer pressure was the best hope for concerted action after the 2009 Copenhagen meeting showed a binding top-down approach could not succeed at the international level.

Conflicts between rich nations, led by the United States and European Union, and developing nations, led by China, India and Brazil, had stalled progress and threatened to scuttle the conference altogether. Negotiations ended a full day later than originally planned, and delegates, who had gone days with little sleep, were nodding exhaustedly in their seats well before the end of the day on Saturday.

The language grew heated at times by diplomatic standards, with Mr. Stern on Saturday reminding China that it had agreed two years ago that climate action would be _applicable to all parties,_ and expressing surprise _that China would be assuming no commitments under the future agreement._ Lead negotiators eventually worked out compromise language _ changing the word _commitments_ to _contributions_ _ for 2015 to allow some wiggle room.

The deal Saturday came less than a year before a _climate summit_ of leaders called by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for September in New York, where world leaders will be asked to show progress on cutting emissions in the full glare of the United States and the world news media.

Despite relief that a Copenhagen-type failure was averted, treaty members remain far from any serious, concerted action to cut emissions. And developing nations complained that promises of financial help remain unmet.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 24, 2013

An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect middle initial to the American climate envoy. He is Todd D. Stern, not Todd S. Stern.


New York Times | By DAVID JOLLY

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