Climate negotiators have made unexpected headway towards a new international treaty to combat global warming, easing a logjam that has held up progress for years.
Representatives of rich and poor nations, meeting at a conference in Accra, Ghana, are nearing consensus on a way to control emissions of greenhouse gases from rapidly developing countries such as China and India, under a treaty which will take effect afterthe Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.
The US has refused to join any arrangement that does not also tackle these emissions, but the rapidly industrialising countries have refused to accept the overall reduction targets that would be imposed on the rich nations which have been responsible for most of the pollution to date.
But now agreement is beginning to coalesce around a plan that would instead oblige developing nations to set targets for specific, highly polluting industries such as cement, steel, and aluminium.
"Something quiet but dramatic is happening", says David Doniger, of the Natural Resources Defence Council. "People are now talking about the same idea in the same language."