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Deal Reached at UN Climate Talks


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech during the High Level Segment of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima, Dec. 11, 2014.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech during the High Level Segment of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima, Dec. 11, 2014.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon says that a global climate change agreement reached Sunday in Peru sets the stage for a "universal and meaningful" deal next year, even as environmental groups attacked the Lima pact as weak.

The U.N. secretary-general praised the outcome of the Peru conference, while urging countries across the globe to engage in "substantive negotiations" ahead of another climate change meeting, in Paris in late 2015.

Ban said the world's major economies need to submit their "ambitious national commitments" for controlling pollution well in advance of the Paris meeting.

The Lima agreement was adopted hours after earlier drafts were rejected by developing countries who accused wealthy nations of shirking their responsibilities to fight global warming and pay for its impacts.

The final draft apparently alleviated those concerns with language saying countries have "common but differentiated responsibilities'' to deal with global warming.

Environmental groups attack pact

But environmental groups said the Peru pact was watered down. World Wildlife Fund climate expert Samantha Smith called the Lima deal "incredibly weak."

"This is an incredibly weak text," she said. "The parties have got just through something that is going to lead to all voluntary submissions of information, all voluntary ideas from countries about what kinds of emissions, reductions they want to make. And the big picture is, when they're done, it's going to be very hard to know if we're actually able to avoid dangerous climate change or not."

Delegates had been wrangling over contents for a final draft since Friday when the conference was scheduled to end. Peruvian environment minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal acknowledged that the final text was not perfect.

"Allow me to tell you all that as with all texts, this is not perfect, but it respects the positions of the parties, and aims to be a product of its own, which is one that is based on what has been proposed to the president of COP. And with this text, we all are winners, no exceptions. I have heard from all of the groups and I have the absolute assurance that with the text we are to receive, we are all winners,'' said Vidal.

Compromise text

U.S. climate change envoy Todd Stern had warned deadlocked delegates Saturday that failure to reach an immediate compromise on carbon pollution standards could doom chances for a global pact at the Paris summit.

Stern urged delegates to accept a compromise text, and warned that failure to do so would damage the overall credibility of U.N. efforts to slow climate change.

The Paris treaty envisioned for next year would replace the Kyoto Protocol - the global agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions that expired in 2012.

Greenhouse gases are blamed for causing global temperatures to rise. Scientists warn that more extreme droughts, floods and rising seas are on the way unless the emissions are reduced.

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