In an 11th-hour arrangement that pushed climate talks in Durban into the weekend, delegates agreed on a compromise measure that would call for further legal and funding measures meant to curb climate change.
The so-called Durban Platform for Enhanced Action calls for a new protocol that would raise the level of ambition in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The new measure would be adopted by 2015 and implemented starting in 2020.
European Commissioner for Climate Connie Hedegaard, who helped push the new measure through, hailed the agreement reached in Durban.
"With the agreement on a road map toward a new legal framework by 2015 that will involve all countries in combating climate change, the EU has achieved its key goal for the Durban climate conference," she said in a statement.
There was little optimism surrounding climate talks in Durban. The chief U.S. negotiator cast a cloud over talks there when he said temperature limits used as a foundation for climate talks were more of a "guidepost" than anything.
Greenpeace, in a statement, said the climate talks ended in failure.
Kumi Naidoo, executive director for Greenpeace International, said the Durban agreement had a get-out-of-jail free clause that gave big emitters like the United States a way out of a legal agreement on climate change.
"If that loophole is exploited it could be a disaster," said Naidoo. "And the deal is due to be implemented 'from 2020' leaving almost no room for increasing the depth of carbon cuts in this decade when scientists say we need emissions to peak."