Climate negotiators agreed a pact on Sunday that would for the first time force all the biggest polluters to take action on greenhouse gas emissions, but critics said the action plan was not aggressive enough to slow the pace of global warming.
The package of accords extended the Kyoto Protocol, the only global pact that enforces carbon cuts, agreed the format of a fund to help poor countries tackle climate change and mapped out a path to a legally binding agreement on emissions reductions.
But many small island states and developing nations at risk of being swamped by rising sea levels and extreme weather said the deal marked the lowest common denominator possible and lacked the ambition needed to ensure their survival.
Agreement on the package, reached in the early hours of Sunday, avoided a collapse of the talks and spared the blushes of host South Africa, whose stewardship of the two weeks of often fractious negotiations came under fire from rich and poor nations.
"We came here with plan A, and we have concluded this meeting with plan A to save one planet for the future of our children and our grandchildren to come," said South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who chaired the talks.
"We have made history," she said, bringing the hammer down on Durban conference, the longest in two decades of U.N. climate negotiations.
Photo credit: Sutterstock, Chris Jenner
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