Long Range Forecast Includes New Climate Change Compact

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A landmark climate change agreement was reached this morning at a U.N. conference in Durban, South Africa.

Delegates from 194 countries agreed to an accord that would legally bind nations to carry out any pledges they make. The agreement would take effect by 2020 at the latest. Currently only industrial countries are legally bound to their emissions targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Those commitments were set to expire next year but were extended under the new accord.

Some environmentalists criticized the packaged for not offering more urgency to cutting carbon emissions.

"The good news is we avoided a train wreck," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The bad news is that we did very little here to affect the emissions curve."

The accord capped 13 days of negotiations that ran more than a day over schedule, including two round-the-clock marathons, leaving delegates nodding off in the final plenary session.

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