After two weeks of often contentious negotiations, representatives of many of the world's largest nations agreed on a blueprint for fighting global warming.
Extending the Kyoto Protocol standards of enforcing the cutting of carbon emissions was a top goal of the negotiators, and they got what they wanted, with plans for a new legally binding treaty to be in place by 2015 and enforced by 2020. The blueprint is called the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.
Among the accords is a plan for the format of a fund to help poor countries cope with reductions in carbon emissions while not bankrupting their economies. Some of the most emission-producing practices, such as burning coal, are often the cheapest methods of producing electricity and other forms of life-sustaining power.
The Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012, but the new deal extends it until the end of 2017. Many observers hope that by that time, the Protocol will gain the acceptance of the United States, one of the world's richest nations and also one of the world's largest polluters. Focus was also intense on China and India, the world's two largest countries in terms of population and also high on the list of largest polluters.
The treaty to be in place by 2015 would include provisions for penalties to be assessed against nations whose emissions exceeded the agreed-on levels.
The negotiations, the longest in two decades of climate negations, took place in Durban, South Africa.