United Nations member states have agreed on an outline of a new climate change treaty do be negotiated in Paris later this year.
Intended as a replacement of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the treaty’s aim is to unite the world’s nations in the fight against the progressing global warming.
The 86-page draft, which the UN required to be in place at least six months before to negotiations start, has been described as rather vague, avoiding firm decisions regarding measures to be taken.
While some of the included proposals call for phasing out net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, others require less specific peaking of emissions ‘as soon as possible’.
"Although it has become longer, countries are now fully aware of each other's positions," said Christiana Figueres, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, referring to an earlier 38-page document which formed the basis of discussions.
Ahead of the climate conference in Paris in November 2015, the states will meet for another round of negotiations in June.
Delegates praised a positive mood at what are often fractious talks about sharing out the burden of curbing greenhouse gases among nations as diverse as China and the United States, OPEC states or sub-Saharan African nations.
The European Union said negotiators should have started the harder task of streamlining the text. "We have lost an opportunity for progress," said Elina Bardram, head of the European Commission delegation.
Activists said it was positive that all views were present in the draft text, even ideas such as a Bolivian demand for an International Climate Justice Tribunal for countries that fail to keep pledges for action.
"Everything in Geneva has set us up for success at Paris," said Julie-Anne Richards of the Climate Justice Programme. She said Geneva contrasted with many U.N. sessions that can "feel like pulling teeth ... painful and hard to get things done."
Last year was the warmest on record and the UN panel of climate scientists says man-made climate change is already visible in more heat extremes, downpours and rising sea levels as ice melts from the Alps to the Andes.
"The 2015 climate negotiations are off to a promising start," said Jennifer Morgan, head of the climate programme at the World Resources Institute think-tank. "Much hard work remains."