Both these perspectives on the Paris outcome have been submitted in the days since the agreement was finally gavelled through on Saturday.
On some points, everyone agrees. The deal does two things that have never been done before: it commits all the 195 signatory nations to holding the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2 °C”, and to reaching a balance between greenhouse gas emissions sources and sinks (otherwise known as net zero emissions) “in the second half of this century”.
“We are the bad guys. I am happy to be a bad guy. But the world is not black and white… and clearly oil and gas companies have to be part of the solution.”
These were the words of Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne when challenged on whether there was any irony to be found in the 16 October announcement, signed by the chief executives of 10 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, that they support efforts to keep global warming within a 2°C rise.
The headlines were stolen by a letter to the US Congress from 10 heads of global food and drinks companies demanding governments promote a strong deal to combat climate change.
A survey of participants in China’s carbon markets flagged that prices in a national emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be launched in 2017 are expected to steadily rise from about 40 yuan/t CO2 equivalent (€5.63/t CO2e; $6.27/t CO2e) emitted at the start, to about Yn70/t CO2e in 2025.
The optimism showed by politicians and officials at the St Petersburg climate dialogue this week was real — some form of binding successor to the Kyoto protocol is almost certain to be agreed in Paris in December.
Why can the Paris talks succeed in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when a series of similar meetings over the past 20 years have failed?
The reasons are threefold.