(RFE/RL) — Delegates from almost 200 countries have extended until 2020 the Kyoto Protocol for fighting climate change.
The document, adopted in 1997, was due to expire by the end of the year.
The extension was agreed at a United Nations climate conference in Doha, Qatar that concluded on December 8.
The meeting, scheduled to have concluded a day earlier, was extended as rich and poor nations faced off on sticking points including the Kyoto deal, finance, and compensation for climate damage.
The president of the Doha Climate Conference Abdullah Bin-Hamad al-Attiyah announced the adoption of the extension, known as the Doha Climate Gateway.
The Doha Climate Gateway was approved with the 27-member European Union, Australia, Switzerland, and eight other industrialized nations signing up for binding emissions cuts by 2020.
The move averted a new setback to two decades of UN efforts that have failed to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol thus remains the only legally binding plan for fighting climate change.
However, it only covers about 15 percent of global emissions after Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Russia opted out.
The United States never joined Kyoto, in part because it did not include China and other fast-growing developing economies.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the decision agreed in Doha but said it was just a first step toward expanding the fight against global warming.
Ban spokesman Martin Nesirky said nations must do “far more” to stop climate change. Nesirky quoted Ban as saying that the Doha Climate Gateway should lead the way to “a comprehensive, legally binding agreement by 2015.”
Nations aim to adopt in 2015 a wider treaty that would apply to all countries after the Kyoto extension expires.