After two weeks of intense haggling, not to mention a few threats, representatives from more than 180 countries hammered out an agenda and a timetable for two years worth of negotiations to adopt a treaty that will succeed Kyoto.
"I am delighted to say that we have finally achieved the breakthrough the world has been waiting for, the Bali road map," said Rachmat Witoelar, president of the United Nations' recently ended climate-change convention, in a speech Saturday.
The agreement came with sighs of relief from some, as the pact seemed doubtful up to the last day of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which ran Dec. 3 through Saturday in Bali, Indonesia (see U.S., U.N. Negotiate the Future of Greentech).
Among the sticking points had been the United States' refusal to sign a nonbinding goal for developed countries to lower their emissions 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
The European Union reacted with a threat to boycott U.S.-sponsored climate talks next month in Hawaii, where countries including China, Russia and India are expected to discuss long-term emission cuts (see Cutting Emissions Country by Country).
But the countries reached a compromise in the nick of time, agreeing to a nonbinding plan that acknowledged that "deep cuts in global emissions will be required."
Although the United States lauded the conference's positive outcome, the country still made clear it had some "serious concerns," such as that only developed countries were committing to emissions cuts, according to a statement issued by the White House on Saturday.
On Sunday, China revoked approvals for 13 small coal-fired power plants in an effort to reduce pollution, according to Reuters, which also reported that the European Commission is expected to publish legislation next week providing more details about new carbon-dioxide emissions limits for transportation.