World leaders will start negotiations next month on the resort island of Bali for a replacement to the Kyoto protocol, which requires 35 industrial nations to cut their global-warming emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, when the accord expires.
"What may happen in Bali is a likely agreement on the roadmap for the future ... likely timetables and deadlines towards defining the broad contours of where an agreement may take us post-2012," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won this year's Nobel Peace Prize along with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Pachauri did not offer specific details but said that he had reason to believe that no country would be "obstructionist" when negotiating.
"There is an unprecedented level of awareness about climate change among people and leaders worldwide," he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made climate change a top priority and that should help, he added.
The United States is not a party to the Kyoto agreement and neither are large developing countries like India and China. They are afraid they will be called on to reduce emissions after 2012, which would hurt their economic growth and poverty-eradication efforts.
Tackling climate change is often a contentious subject because of competing environmental, economic and energy concerns from countries with different priorities.
"What will be of critical importance is for all the countries of the world to realize that we are all in this together," Pachauri said.