According to reports, A marathon UN climate conference on Sunday approved a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major greenhouse-gas emitters under a single legal roof.
If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.
The deal was reached after nearly 14 days of talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The forum also launched a ” Green Climate Fund” to help channel up to 100 billion dollars a year in aid to poor, vulnerable countries by 2020, an initiative born under the 2009 Copenhagen Summit.
“I believe that what we have achieved in Durban will play a central role in saving tomorrow, today,” declared South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who chaired the talks.
Approval came after two and a half days of round-the-clock wrangling among 194 nations.
Even by UNFCCC standards, the meeting broke the record for going into overtime.
The talks should have ended on Friday but wrapped up in the dawn light of Sunday amid scenes of exhaustion and shredded nerves.
And the often-stormy exchanges reflected concerns among many countries over the cost of making energy efficiencies and switching to clean renewable sources at a time of belt-tightening.
UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres was exultant.
Citing the words of Nelson Mandela, she said on Twitter: “In honour of Mandela: It always seems impossible until it is done. And it is done!
“I think in the end it ended up quite well,” said US chief negotiator Todd Stern.
“The first time you will see developing countries agreeing, essentially, to be bound by a legal agreement.”
European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the deal marked the shift that had occurred over the last 20 years, when the world first set out to tackle climate change and tied only rich countries to carbon constraints.
“The BASIC countries took some significant new steps in acknowledging that the world of the 21st century is not the same as the 20th century,” she said referring to the four big emerging economies — Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
In the runup to the conference, scientists pounded out loud warnings, saying future generations would pay the bill for foot-dragging.