The European Union has hailed a new deal on climate change as a "historic breakthrough," while critics said the plan was not enough to slow global warming.
The agreement, reached early on December 11 at the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa, will for the first time force the world's biggest polluters -- including the United States and China -- to take action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for climate action, said the new agreement, by obliging all nations to enforce new emissions standards by 2020, "reflects the reality of today's mutually interdependent world."
The deal, which came at the end of a two-week conference, ended days of fighting and disagreements between major world powers like the EU, India, China, and the United States.
Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, who had complained her nation was being unfairly pressured during the talks, in the end hailed the outcome as a success.
"We're happy that this major success was achieved, despite so many different points of view. And we showed, and other people also showed, great flexibility," she said. "So we're happy that it's a great success."
But environment-watchers said the deal was not enough to prevent the world from witnessing a rise in average temperature of 3.5 degrees Celsius, a condition that will cause greater numbers of droughts, floods, storms, and rising sea levels.
compiled from agency reports