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Climate deal struck after marathon UN talks; India's concerns met says Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar

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Climate deal struck after marathon UN talks; India's concerns met says Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar
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Negotiators on Sunday adopted a compromise draft for national pledges to cut global carbon emissions at marathon UN climate talks in Lima that addressed all of India's concerns and paved way for a new ambitious and binding deal to be signed in Paris next year to combat climate change.

"The document is approved," announced President of the United Nations climate talks meeting Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who is also the Environment Minister of Peru, after hectic negotiations by officials from 194 countries for about two weeks in the Peruvian capital.

"I think this is good, and I think this moves us forward," Pulgar-Vidal said. Commenting on the draft, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said, "all of India's concerns have been addressed." "We have achieved targets and we got what we wanted," he said after the delegates approved a broad blueprint for talks leading up to a deal in 2015, to take effect in 2020.

He also remained positive about meetings over the next year and in Paris, saying "we can build on this [Lima text] and build consensus." The adoption of the draft at the meeting which went into two extra days was seen as a significant first step towards reaching a global climate change deal in Paris – although delegates feel much of the hard work remained ahead.

The deal -- dubbed the Lima Call for Climate Action -- paves the way for what is envisioned as the historic agreement in environmental history. The agreement was adopted hours after a previous draft was rejected by developing countries, which accused rich nations of shirking their responsibilities to fight global warming and pay for its impacts.

The final draft is said to have alleviated those concerns by saying countries have "common but differentiated responsibilities".

There was a great sense of relief among delegates when the announcement came in the early hours of Sunday morning, as the 12-day meeting had already overrun by two days. Indian delegation led by Javadekar worked overnight, engaging with developed as well as developing nations to reach the deal taking into account India's concerns.

"We are happy that the final negotiated statement at COP20 in Lima has addressed the concerns of developing countries and mainly the efforts of some countries to re-write the convention has not fructified," Javadekar said.

"It (deal) gives enough space for the developing world to grow and take appropriate nationally determined steps," he said. The developed world will have to take responsibility for action in technology and capacity building and to that end they will have to provide resources, he said.

But environmental groups criticised the deal as a weak and ineffectual compromise, saying it weakens international climate rules. The talks proved difficult because of divisions between rich and poor countries over how to spread the burden of pledges to cut carbon emissions.

The draft mentioned only that all pledges would be reviewed a month ahead of December 2015 Paris summit to assess their combined effect on climate change. UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres told reporters that the approved text is a sign of progression on closing the gaps between three key elements: science, policy response and action.

Figures also praised the new pledges to the Green Climate Fund, set up to assist developing countries deal with the effects of climate change, to approximately US $10 billion. "We must...we can...and we will address climate change," she said.

Earlier, Pulgar-Vidal, who had spent entire day meeting separately with delegations, presented the new draft just before midnight, saying "as a text it's not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties."

The negotiators were given an hour to review the revised draft text. The revised draft has added a line in the preamble regarding "loss and damages" provisions which many small island developing states had requested.

The main plenary was reconvened at 1:30 am local time and Pulgar-Vidal announced that the draft text has been approved. Pulgar-Vidal said at the plenary that the approved text "heeds everyone's concerns in a balanced way" though no clear structure of countries' Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) came out of this round of talks.

"INDCs are the key to having a balance between the top- down and bottom-up process" that takes place at UN climate talks, said Vidal. Consistent with India and other developing countries push, a separate paragraph was added regarding differentiation - the principle of categorising countries based on their ability to pay for climate action measures.

It reads that any Paris 2015 agreement should reflect "the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances." It also restored a promise to poorer countries that a "loss and damage" scheme would be established to help them cope with the financial implications of rising temperatures.

However, it weakened language on national pledges, saying countries "may" instead of "shall" include quantifiable information showing how they intend to meet their emissions targets. The last portion was lifted directly from the US-China climate agreement announced in November of this year.

As agreed in the draft, countries would come up with their own emissions reductions targets, with a suggested deadline of March 31 next year.

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