Negotiations over a global deal on climate change were deadlocked last night on the key question of setting a deadline for countries to propose targets for cutting emissions.
The US suggested the deadline could be set at March 2015 but China was reluctant to agree any date, making it less likely that the deal will be signed as planned at the end of 2015.
Developed and developing countries remained bitterly divided at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Warsaw over how to share the burden of cutting emissions.
But a compromise was close to being agreed on the highly sensitive issue of “loss and damage”, or the impact of storms and rising sea levels on countries like the Philippines which many scientists say is being worsened by man-made climate change.
Britain, the US and other developed countries were adamant that they would not pay compensation but they accepted the need for a “new entity” within the negotiations to study the issue and make proposals.
This is set to become yet another strand in the expanding UNFCCC process, which already brings 5,000 officials and politicians from 190 countries together for annual two-week meetings plus several smaller events throughout the year.
The Warsaw conference is set to be the first in the 20-year negotiations to close with lower commitments on emissions than when it started. Japan announced in the first week that the closure of its nuclear power stations meant it could longer fulfil its pledge to cut emissions by 25 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 but would increase them by 3 per cent instead.