The UN climate deal agreed between nearly 200 countries in the early hours of Sunday morning was welcomed by politicians – but environmentalists and climate activists denounced it as both weak and ineffectual.
Differences over the draft text caused the two-week talks in Lima, Peru to overrun by more than a day before a compromise was finally struck.
For the first time, developing and developed nations have all signed up to publishing their national plans for curbing carbon dioxide emissions, although the measures are still hazy and largely voluntary.
Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, hailed the agreement as critical for next year’s “even more difficult” climate change summit in Paris. This will set out to establish binding international commitments on reducing greenhouse gases to limit global warming to the target threshold of 2C.
“The Lima deal unlocks the door to the big climate change deal that we need in Paris next year. It’s been tough and we’ve stayed up all night to reach this deal, but we have to do it for our children and our grandchildren,” Mr Davey said.
Labour’s Caroline Flint, the shadow Climate Change Secretary, said that it was vital to get both developing and developed nations “on the same page” and agree that they both need to tackle their carbon emissions.
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
Calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers are seen floating on the water in Qaqortoq, Greenland
Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers in the past decade. It shrinks mainly because of climate change, expanded irrigation for surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water
A boat navigates among calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Boats are a crucial mode of transportation in the country that has few roads. As cities like Miami, New York and other vulnerable spots around the world strategize about how to respond to climate change, many Greenlanders simply do what theyve always done: adapt. 'Were used to change, said Greenlander Pilu Neilsen. 'We learn to adapt to whatever comes. If all the glaciers melt, well just get more land
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen after being inaugurated in Longyearbyen, Norway. The 'doomsday' seed vault built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters opened deep within an Arctic mountain in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
A technician preparing to drain a vast underground lake at the Tete Rousse glacier on the Mont Blanc Alpine mountain, to avert a potentially disatrous flood. Some 65,000 cubic metres (2.3 million cubic feet) of water have gathered in a cavity, dangerously raising the pressure beneath the mountain, a favourite spot for holiday makers in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
Cracked mud is picture at sunrise in the dried shores of Lake Gruyere affected by continuous drought near the western Switzerland village of Avry-devant-Pont. A leading climate scientist warned that Europe should take action over increasing drought and floods, stressing that some climate change trends were clear despite variations in predictions
Cattle graze on grassland that remains dry and brown at the height of the rainy season in south of Bakersfield, California. Its third straight year of unprecedented drought, California is experiencing its driest year on record, dating back 119 years, and dating back as far as 500 years, according to some scientists who study tree rings
An aerial view shows tents of flood-displaced people surrounded by water in southern Sehwan town. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres met with people displaced by last year's devastating floods. Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept through the country in 2010 and affected some 20 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and damaged 5.4 million acres of arable land
An aerial view of flooding in North Wagga Wagga. Climate change is amplifying risks from drought, floods, storm and rising seas, threatening all countries but small island states, poor nations and arid regions in particular, UN experts warned
Damages caused by a landslide on the Pan-American highway near La Moramulca, 55 Km south of Tegucigalpa. International highways have been washed out, villages isolated and thousands of families have lost homes and crops in a region that the United Nations has classified as one of the most affected by climate change
A resident sprays water on a peatland fire in Pekanbaru district in Riau province on Indonesia's Sumatra island. Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, is one of the world's biggest carbon emitters because of rampant deforestation. US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday issued a clarion call for nations to do to more to combat climate change, calling it 'the world's largest weapon of mass destruction'
An excavator clearing a peatland forest area for a palm oil plantations in Trumon subdistrict, Aceh province, on Indonesia's Sumatra island. As Southeast Asia's largest economy grows rapidly, swathes of biodiverse forests across the archipelago of 17,000 islands have been cleared to make way for paper and palm oil plantations, as well as for mining and agriculture. The destruction has ravaged biodiversity, placing animals such as orangutans and Sumatran tigers in danger of extinction, while also leading to the release of vast amounts of climate change-causing carbon dioxide
Stagnant rain water with tannery waste make the Hazaribagh area in Old Dhaka as well as Buriganga River the most polluted. Each year during the seven-month long dry season between October and April the Buriganga River becomes totally stagnant with its upstream region drying up and becoming polluted from toxic waste from city industries
Waste water from Dhaka city drained to the River Buriganga contributes to its pollutions. On the World Water Day observed in 2007 under the theme Coping with Water Scarcity, under the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, DrikNEWS explores some of the images of the river. UN-Water has identified coping with water scarcity as part of the strategic issues and priorities requiring joint UN action. The theme highlights the significance of cooperation and importance of an integrated approach to water resource management of water at international, national and local levels
Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. China's Environment Ministry said it will send inspection teams to provinces and cities most seriously affected by smog to ensure rules on fighting air pollution are being enforced
The two-week negotiations in Lima almost collapsed over disagreements between rich and poor nations on who will pay for the poorer nations to adapt to climate change, given that the problem is one largely made by the richer industrialised countries.
“We’ve got what we wanted,” said India’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, who said the text of the Lima agreement preserved a notion enshrined in a 1992 UN Climate Convention that the rich have to lead the way in making cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.
The US, meanwhile, was among wealthier nations that wanted firmer commitments on limiting carbon emissions from fast-growing economies such as India and China. China is now the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the US, the EU and India.
The US Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern, said that a joint US-China deal last month to curb emissions had helped show new ways to bridge a standoff between rich and poor. “The announcement of a few weeks ago came in handy here,” Mr Stern said.
However, other attendees at the Lima talks were less happy with the final deal, arguing that it was weak and ineffectual, and makes a deal in Paris even more difficult to reach.
“Governments crucially failed to agree on specific plans to cut emissions before 2020 that would have laid the ground for ending the fossil fuel era and accelerated the move towards renewable energy and increased energy efficiency,” said Samantha Smith of the WWF’s global climate initiative.
Lord Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute in London, said the Lima deal is an important step towards a new agreement at the climate change summit in Paris next December, but a number of important issues still need to be resolved before then.
“It is vital that countries put before the Paris summit intended nationally determined contributions that are both ambitious and credible,” Lord Stern said.
“That means countries must continue to explore opportunities to increase emissions cuts. And they must build into the Paris agreement arrangements for moving purposefully thereafter to increase the scale of action,” he said.
What is the Lima deal about?
It is an attempt to lay down the ground rules for a crucial climate change summit in Paris next year. This summit is seen as critical for the international attempts to curb the growing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The ultimate aim is to try to reduce emissions to a level that scientists think will keep the world within the 2C upper target, which they see as a threshold for potentially dangerous climate change.
Does the deal affect anything?
For the first time is brings together both the richer industrialised countries and the poorer developing nations, which have agreed to publish national plans for reigning in their greenhouse gas emissions. The informal deadline for completing this is 31 March 2015, which they hope will give them time to formulate a global agreement for the Paris summit next December.
Didn’t we have a Kyoto climate deal already?
The Kyoto protocol came out of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the same convention that has led to the Lima deal and Paris summit next year. The goal of the Kyoto protocol was to set limits on overall emissions, by reducing them to at least 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012, and was only ever intended as a first step toward implementing the convention. However, it only applied to the richer, industrialised nations. Critics argued this made it weak and useless because it left out the countries such as China and India which were on a course for substantial increases in emissions. Lima and Paris are about what happens to the climate change convention now that the Kyoto protocol ended in 2012.
Why do we need any further agreements on climate change?
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it quite clear in a series of influential reports that the global climate is changing, the world is getting hotter and that greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be the main cause. As carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase, governments around the world are being urged to take action to curb the production of greenhouse gases by limiting or even phasing out the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas. The problem is that the richer countries do not want to take action on their own and the poorer nations want fossil fuels to grow their economies quickly.