The COP24 has been deemed the most important climate meeting since 2015 when the Paris Agreement was produced with the goal of capping global warming at two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels while pursuing the even tougher goal of limiting it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Michal Kurtyka, a Polish official chairing the talks in Katowice, sealed the deal on Saturday after diplomats and ministers from nearly 200 countries approved.
"China and the USA have worked together with all other countries to complete the negotiation and thus make the Paris Agreement a milestone achievement in global climate governance", Beijing's chief negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, told reporters.
They agreement does not bind countries to hit their targets.
The decision text now merely expresses gratitude for the work on the report, welcomes its timely completion and invites parties to use the information in it.
"There is a view among many of us that this is failing", he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"Through this package, you have made a thousand little steps forward together", said Michal Kurtyka, a senior Polish official chairing the talks. The IPCC report that caused so much division at the negotiations found that to keep warming capped at 1.5 degrees there needs to be a dramatic overhaul of the global economy, including a shift away from fossil fuels.
Some countries and green groups criticised the outcome for failing to urge increased ambitions on emissions cuts sufficiently to curb rising temperatures.
The Canadian government was dealt a major setback in its effort to establish rules under the Paris accord for the trading of market-based emissions credits, which would facilitate a global marketplace.
The developed countries had pledged to collectively mobilize 100 billion USA dollars a year by 2020 to help developing countries combat and better adapt to climate challenges but observers say the actual funding provided by the developed countries falls far behind the goal.
"Under these circumstances, every single step forward is a big achievement".
Delegates at the COP24 said China has been at the forefront of the challenging negotiations, working hard with various parties to untangle some of the key points of contention.
"The most significant part is the transparency guidelines, which put the meat on the bones of that section of the Paris agreement", says Sue Biniaz, the former top climate lawyer for the U.S. State Department and one of the negotiators who worked on the Paris agreement.
Climate-vulnerable nations were also hoping to get some visibility on what happens after 2025, when the US$100 billion pledge expires, as well as on vaguely worded commitments to provide a separate stream of money - under the heading "loss and damage" - to help cope with climate impacts here and now.
The Malaysian delegation called for more money to flow from countries like the USA - the world's largest economy and the second largest polluter - to help pay for damage caused by climate change, saying, "We owe this to the poor and vulnerable who are paying sometimes with their lives in our part of the world".
Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna suggested there was no alternative to such meetings if countries want to tackle global problems, especially as multilateral diplomacy is under pressure from nationalism.
At the 11th hour, ministers also managed to break a deadlock between Brazil and other countries over the accounting rules for the monitoring of carbon credits.
Greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by about 60 percent from current levels by 2030 to stay on a 1.5-degree path.
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