Although hailed by Hilary Benn as an historic breakthrough, the UN climate change talks in Bali closed after extra time yesterday with what many observers regarded as a compromise on emissions cuts.
The main aim of the summit was to establish a framework for a new global deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol post 2012. The terms of new deal will be finalised at the 2009 climate change talks in Copenhagen.
However the discussions have remained tense with the US, along with Japan, Canada and Russia, insisting that specific emissions targets should not be included in any prospective deal.
An agreement, termed the Bali Roadmap, was finally reached following a U-turn from the US that had threatened to derail the talks.
After being booed by delegates, the world's most powerful nation dropped its opposition to poorer countries requesting technological and financial assistance from the industrialised world.
Earlier in the talks after much discussion, the US and the EU finally agreed not to set firm emissions targets at this stage.
"This is an historic breakthrough and a huge step forward," said UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn. "For the first time ever all the world's nations have agreed to negotiate on a deal to tackle dangerous climate change concluding in 2009."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he appreciated "the spirit of flexibility" shown by key delegations and acknowledged the "divide of position between and among countries," but added, "global warming is an issue which affects the whole humanity, whole planet earth, we must have co-ordinated and concerted efforts to address this issue."
Environment groups echoed this sentiment, but were a little more vocal, "The Bush Administration - dragging Canada, Japan and Russia in tow - has thrown away the compass and is trying to force us all to take the journey in a gas-guzzling 4X4, not the solar-powered speedster that the world urgently needs," claimed Antonio Hill, senior climate change policy advisor for Oxfam, although Mr Hill recognised some of the positive outcomes of the talks.
"At long last the UN climate talks have started to grapple with the devastating impacts climate change is already having on the world's poorest people. Coping with these impacts comes at a price that rich polluters must pay," added Mr Hill.
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published: 16:30 - 15 December 2007