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China and India onboard with updated wording at Warsaw climate talks

Established economies and those still growing have reached a last-minute compromise to avert a breakdown of UN climate talks in Warsaw. Originally scheduled to end Friday, the negotiations continued into Saturday.

Climate change talks go into extra time

At UN talks originally scheduled to end on Friday, negotiators reached consensus Saturday for the foundations for an ambitious global climate pact, modifying wording in a document that had threatened to derail talks in Warsaw. China, the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and India (No. 4) had clashed with the US (No. 2) and other countries earlier Saturday over the wording of draft decisions with guidelines on when countries should present commitments for a new pact to fight climate change. Delegates ultimately adopted an altered text agreed to during added emergency negotiations in the Warsaw National Stadium.

The countries replaced the word "commitments" for nationally determined greenhouse gas emissions cuts with the weaker "contributions."

Environmental groups had all but given up even before China and India virtually brought the talks to a standstill by insisting on such wording to keep a firewall between rich and poor countries. The US and other wealthy nations had wanted to get rid of such a distinction.

'Enhance action'

Since the annual talks began on November 11, negotiators from 194 nations had wrangled over key points meant to lay the framework for a global climate agreement to be put into effect in 2015 at a meeting in Paris. Any agreement would represent the first to bind all the world's nations to curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas.

"Only developed countries should have commitments," Chinese negotiator Su Wei had said earlier, and they should expect emerging economies only to "enhance action."

Criticized for its own record on climate protection, Germany had called for a universal agreement at the talks. Europe is the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

mkg/dr (AFP, AP)

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