Activists unhappy at climate deal
European ministers say they have made a significant step in securing a deal to draw up a new international climate treaty, but campaigners warned it would not be enough to tackle global warming.
The deal, which was finally agreed as UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, overran by almost 36 hours, commits all countries - including major polluters the US and China - to negotiate a legally enforceable treaty on cutting emissions by 2015.
Under the agreement, brokered after a last-ditch compromise between the European Union and India in a "huddle" on the floor of the conference hall, the treaty will come into force from 2020.
It is the first time the biggest polluters, the US, China and India, have all signed up to negotiate a legal deal that will see them cut their emissions.
The last attempt to secure a global treaty which forced all countries to cut the greenhouse gas emissions which push up world temperatures ended in failure at UN talks in Copenhagen two years ago, with just a voluntary accord drawn up.
There are hopes that the roadmap agreed today will lead to a legally-binding deal which will cover all major economies - and that it will send a signal to business that governments are serious about shifting to a low carbon economy.
But environmental groups say that a deal that does not come into force until 2020, after a decade in which voluntary emissions cuts already pledged countries do not match up to what the science says is needed, will lock in "dangerous" climate change.
Campaigners warned negotiators had failed to show the ambition necessary to cut emissions by levels that would limit global temperature rises to no more than 2C and avoid "dangerous" climate change.
The EU had come to the talks in Durban, South Africa, calling for a mandate to negotiate a new legally binding treaty on global warming by 2015, covering all major emitters, in return for the bloc signing up to a second period of emissions cuts under the existing Kyoto climate deal.
The talks had seemed deadlocked amid efforts by some major emitters to agree a watered down version of the roadmap that would not necessarily commit countries to a legally-binding deal.