U.N. Delegates Take First Steps Towards New Global Warming Treaty

Diplomats lay the groundwork for a deal that would limit pollution by all countries for the first time

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Kacper Pempel / Reuters

Philippine Climate Commissioner Naderev Sano holds a sign at the closing session during the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) in Warsaw Nov. 23, 2013.

U.N. delegates from nearly 190 nations laid the technical groundwork for a landmark treaty on climate change over the weekend in Warsaw, Poland.

The diplomats endorsed a set of measures that could be the foundation of a treaty that would be the first to limit pollution by all countries. The delegates authorized a “loss and damage” mechanism to help the poorest countries and took in $100 million in pledges from wealthier nations.

The most controversial issue — how to divide up emissions cuts — was not addressed by the delegates, however, but will be part of negotiations over the next two years. The goal is to have a treaty that can be adopted by 2015 to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which covers only a fraction of global emissions.

China surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest polluter in 1997; but with the world’s second largest population, India is also contributing ever more to global pollution.