UN : The United Nations-led climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, concluded Saturday with an agreement that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called an important stepping stone towards a universal legal agreement in 2015. “The Secretary-General welcomes the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference that concluded today in Warsaw and he congratulates Poland for successfully hosting the Conference,” his spokesperson said in a statement. The deal hammered out Saturday ends two-weeks of talks between diplomats and environment experts representing more than 195 Parties to the UNFCCC, the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.  For the first time, the talks, which are also known as the Conference of the Parties or COP-19, included participation from the private sector, with a UN-business forum held on its sidelines.

The agreement lays the groundwork for a legally-binding treaty to be adopted in 2015, and enter force by 2020, which would cut climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. In today's statement, Ban welcomed the Parties' decision “to intensify immediate actions to fight climate change” and to come forward with their national contributions to the agreement well before its finalisation in 2015.

The talks were made all the more urgent by the devastation in Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan that killed thousands of people and affected 13.25 million overall just as participants were arriving in Poland. “Much more needs to be done over the coming two years to achieve the ambitious agreement necessary to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius,” the spokesperson said in the statement.