Representatives of 195 countries reached a landmark climate accord on Saturday that would, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change.
Delegates who have been negotiating intensely in this Paris suburb for two weeks gathered for the final plenary session where, suddenly, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France asked for opposition to the deal and, hearing none, gaveled the session closed.
With that the delegates achieved what had been unreachable for two decades: a consensus on the need to move away from carbon-based fuels and a plan for the 195 nations to do so.
Thought the final deal did not achieve all that environmentalists, scientists and some countries had hoped for, it set the table for further efforts to slow down the slide toward an unlivable planet.
In the end, it was an extraordinary effort at international diplomacy. Supporters of a deal have argued that no less than the future of the planet was at stake, and in the days leading up to the final session worked relentlessly to push skeptical nations to join their ranks.
I am fighting back tears as I write this. Do you know what this moment means? It means the most rapacious and destructive industry on the face of this warming Earth is on the downfall. It means that we will finally race towards the day where fossil fuels are kept in the ground where they belong, and children born today can have clean air, clean water and a stable future.
Do you know what this moment means? It means men and women of goodwill can succeed in the face of impossible odds.
Do you know what this moment means? It means that the deniers, the disinformers and the demagogues have been humiliated and humbled once and for all.
This is history’s golden moment. This is a moment where hope won in a blowout against cynicism. This is a day to be proud, damn proud, of being alive, of being compassionate, of being human.
Caring won. Hope won. Science won. The better angels of our nature won.
SECOND UPDATE: John Kerry’s stirring remarks today on the Paris climate agreement:
FOURTH UPDATE: Historic remarks by President Obama. Future generations will thank this man profusely for his leadership on climate:
SIXTH UPDATE: A great report from CBS Evening News.