Delegates from 195 countries have agreed on the text of a global pact to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and reverse the effects of climate change after two weeks of tough negotiations in Paris. French officials announced that the final draft of the historic deal was completed in the early hours of 12 December and that it would be presented to ministers at 10.30am GMT.
The agreement, which could be officially adopted at a special session later on 12 December, was reached 16 hours after the conference was originally scheduled to close. "We have a text to present," an official from the office of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the AFP news agency.
No details about the contents of the final draft have been released as yet. A 29-page draft version released on 9 December committed towards limiting global warming to 1.5C or 2C, but was criticised for its reduced ambition. Scientists say there is a danger of irreversible and catastrophic climate change if global carbon emissions do not peak soon.
Delegates from around the world have been locked in round-the-clock talks for more than two weeks at the UN conference, called COP21, to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. "We're all tired and we've become much less diplomatic," Espen Ronneburg, a finance negotiator from the Pacific island nation of Samoa, was quoted as saying by AFP. "Instead, we just go straight to the point. Some people don't even say hello anymore, they just nod their heads."
While observers say the conference has largely avoided the acrimonious exchanges of past climate summits, significant differences have emerged over who should bear the brunt of reducing carbon emissions. The likes of India and China argue that Western industrialised nations must bear the lion's share of responsibility for tackling climate change, while richer countries want developing nations to commit to greater emissions cuts and contribute finance to climate initiatives.
Fabius said he was "sure" the conference would succeed in delivering a global climate pact on 11 December. "Everything is in place to achieve a universal, ambitious accord. Never again will we have a more favourable momentum than in Paris," he was quoted as saying.
Climate scientists hold a near-unanimous consensus that the recent global warming trend is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, driven mainly by human activity. Global temperatures are already 1C above pre-industrial levels – halfway towards the 2C threshold that is seen as the gateway towards dangerous warming.