A new text circulating at the United Nations climate conference in South Africa suggests nations may be edging towards agreement.
The European Union and many of the world's poorer countries rejected an earlier draft which would have meant that no country needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions before 2020.
The latest draft says new talks on a new deal should begin almost immediately it says, and be finished by 2015 at the latest.
It will be formally discussed on Saturday morning, with the meeting expected to conclude late in the day.
The BBC says the new version for the first time explicitly endorses the fact that there is a gap between the pledges countries have made on cutting emissions and their stated goal of keeping the rise in average global temperatures since pre-industrial times below 2C.
The document has the backing of the EU, African nations, small island nations, Brazil and South Africa, but it still needs to be agreed by the world's biggest carbon emitters, the US, China and India.
Spokesman for the European Union's commission on climate change, Isaac Valero-Ladron, says whether or not the three would agree to be legally bound to reduce emissions was the key question remaining at the Durban conference. "The world is waiting for you" was his message to them.