Nearly 200 nations are attending climate talks in Doha, where delegates are trying to negotiate a new global deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions which would be finalised by 2015 and come into force in 2020.

The deal would be a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the first commitment period of which expires at the end of this year.

Yesterday, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that extreme weather is the new normal as a result of global warming and said it poses a threat to the human race.

Mr Ban said that Kyoto was a valuable model, however attempts to have a symbolic extension of the protocol have yet to be successful.

Russia, Japan and Canada are pulling out, arguing the protocol is no longer relevant because emerging nations led by China and India will have no targets to curb their soaring emissions from 2013.

The United States, which is the second biggest emitter behind China, signed but never ratified Kyoto.

This means that the group left supporting Kyoto, led by the European Union and Australia, only account for 15% of world greenhouse gas emissions.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan told delegates in Doha that they “have a responsibility to future generations to ensure there is a successful outcome to our discussions this week."

Mr Hogan also promised what he called "an ambitious environmental agenda" when Ireland takes over the Presidency of the European Council in January of next year.

He asserted that progress was being made in "delivering on the programme for the development of national climate policy".

He promised that "legislation [will be ] published in early 2013."

Mr Hogan said he expected "to announce details of additional initiatives... in the coming weeks - all designed to move Ireland further along the transition to a low-carbon future."

Mr Hogan's address received a cool reception from Irish environmental groups.

Oisin Coghlan of Friends of the Earth said: "Fine words at far away conferences are easy. The real test for the minister will be the publication of the draft climate change Bill, due before Christmas."

Mr Coghlan added: "To have any credibility it must set an emissions target for 2050 in line with EU plans for 80-95% reductions. And it must give our EU 2020 target the force of national law."

He said: "Only a strong climate law will ensure the fine words are followed up with real action."