United Nations climate envoys have proposed the creation of a global "climate court" that would be responsible for enforcing a sprawling set of rules requiring developed countries to cut emissions while compensating poorer countries in order to pay off a "historical climate debt."
The proposals are contained in a draft document pieced together for the climate conference in Durban, South Africa. Representatives at the conference are struggling to come up with a compromise that negotiators from 194 nations can agree on.
But the draft document, one of many floating around the conference, gives a glimpse into the long-term vision some nations hold for the creation of an international legal framework on climate change.
In the bowels of the document is a provision calling for "an international climate court of justice."
The proposal is meant to "guarantee the compliance of Annex I Parties with all the provisions of this decision."
Annex I countries are mostly developed countries, covering the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and much of Europe -- including countries that are struggling financially such as Greece and Portugal.
The rules of the road the court would presumably enforce are based on the view that these developed countries owe developing countries a "debt" over climate change, and must provide financial aid in addition to taking major steps toward cutting emissions.
In one section, the document calls for developed countries to help poorer countries with "finance, technology and capacity building" so they can "adapt to and mitigate climate change" while helping eliminate poverty. Another section provides that developing countries should receive an amount of money equal to the amount "developed countries spend on defense, security and warfare."
Yet the document also calls for a guaranteed end to warfare altogether -- for the sake of curbing climate change.
One section, noting that "conflict-related activities emit significant greenhouse gas emissions," calls on all parties to "cease destructive activities" like warfare -- and then channel the money that would have been spent on war and other defense projects toward "a common enemy: climate change."
The document also asserts the "rights of mother earth," a concept that environmental activists have been pushing for.
The draft report, which strings together proposals from various working groups, quickly raised alarm among climate change skeptics.
Marc Morano, a former aide to U.N. agitator and Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, told FoxNews.com the document shows the climate talks are intended to create more "taxing and regulatory authority."
"This is the true U.N. agenda unmasked in this draft report," he said. Morano now runs the ClimateDepot blog, which also reported on the draft document.
However, the idea of a climate court anytime soon -- particularly one that the United States and other big carbon emitters would agree to -- may be far-fetched. One environmental law expert, professor Jonathan Verschuuren at The Netherlands' Tilburg University, wrote in an online column that the court "will certainly not materialize."
Instead, representatives at the Durban conference reportedly are still trying to figure out how and whether to extend the Kyoto protocol, whose emission requirements expire next year. Some industrial nations want a new agreement that would ask more of developing countries.