The summit had been at risk of stalling before the US and the EU sprung a surprise move. Then, after three all-night sessions, decades of failure were reversed and a historic agreement reached
Sunday 13 December 2015 02.00 EST
“I see no objections,” said the expressionless French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, barely glancing at the rows of country delegates then sharply banging his gavel. There was a moment’s silence as if no one could quite believe it, and then the cheers rang out, the tears of relief flowed and in scenes of high emotion, the anonymous conference hall in a northern suburb of Paris erupted. Thousands of delegates started to applaud each other. They had done it.
Al Gore embraced UN climate chief Christina Figueres, who clutched UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who radiated relief to everyone. Lawyers slapped diplomats on the back, NGOs high-fived security guards, who shook hands with the world’s media, who whistled and cheered.
After more than 20 years of abject failure to agree a new global climate deal, rich and poor countries had agreed to differ and had finally adopted 31 pages of dense, legal text which, just possibly, could set the world on a different, cleaner safer, energy path.
When 150 heads of state pledged two weeks ago in Paris to forge a new climate deal, it seemed certain they would make history where decades of tortuous UN climate talks had failed.