United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the set of decisions reached at the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa on Sunday, saying they represented "a significant agreement that will define how the international community will address climate change in the coming years".
After marathon negotiations extended over the weekend, the 194 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed on a historic package of decisions known as the "Durban Platform".
New protocol or 'legal instrument'
These include the launch of a protocol or "legal instrument" that will apply to all members, a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol, and the full implementation of the Green Climate Fund.
In a statement on Sunday, Ban said the Durban Platform would be "essential for stimulating greater action and for raising the level of ambition and the mobilization of resources to respond to the challenges of climate change."
Ban also welcomed the agreement to establish a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, saying it would "increase certainty for the carbon market, and provide additional incentives for new investments in technology and the infrastructure necessary to fight climate change."
Cancun Agreements to be implemented
Ban said he was gratified that the countries in Durban had reached a decision to implement the Cancun Agreements created at last year's conference in Mexico.
The new measures, which will come into full effect in 2012, include setting up a Technology Mechanism that will promote developing country access to clean, low-carbon technologies, and establishing an Adaptation Committee to coordinate activities to adapt to climate change on a global scale.
Ban welcomed the agreement to launch the Green Climate Fund, added that he was gratified that a number of countries had signalled their intent to contribute to it.
The Fund was created following the Cancun talks to help developing countries protect themselves from climate impacts, but had not been launched yet, and Ban had urged developed countries throughout the two-week conference in Durban to inject the necessary capital to kick-start it.
"Taken together, these agreements represent an important advance in our work on climate change," Ban said, calling on countries to "quickly implement these decisions and to continue working together in the constructive spirit evident in Durban."