It was the best of deals, it was the worst of deals

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”.

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Enter the bad guys

“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.

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Paris climate talks — deal or no deal?

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.

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