Tears, cheers and selfies as climate pact sealed in Paris

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Paris
  • Updated: Dec 13, 2015 15:02 IST
French President Francois Hollande (C) embraces Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) looks on at the final plenary session at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 12, 2015. (Reuters)

They erupted into cheers, broke into tears and took selfies after the gavel came down on the historic climate deal in Paris.

Around 2,000 people -- ministers, negotiators and activists -- in the plenary hall at Le Bourget, the airport sub-town on the outskirts of Paris, took to their feet in a joyous uprising.

The cheering lasted for three minutes after which French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who presided over 13 days of gruelling talks, picked up the green leaf-shaped gavel and brought it down again.

“It may be a small gavel but it can do big things,” he said, drawing more cheers.

The mood in the room was celebratory even before the emotional approval of the accord, with broad smiles, back-slapping, hugs and handshakes.

Former US vice president Al Gore, co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, posed for pictures and selfies with admirers.

As soon as the summit was over, staff at the plenary hall started cleaning up and asked the journalists, politely, to vacate the media place.

A participant rests under an animal figure at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 12, 2015. (Reuters)

There were no attendants in the free shuttle buses from the conference venue and even negotiators had to find their way back to their hotels.

Later, civil society members partied all night in the most expensive places in central Paris celebrating the deal they described as ambitious but weak.

France’s iconic landmark the Eiffel tower was lit beyond midnight to mark Paris embedding its name in climate history.

But many outside Le Bourget were not aware that nearly 200 nations had signed a commitment to cut emissions and thus slow down global warming.

They will wait for the morning newspapers to tell them how the world got together at their place to try and save the planet.

(With inputs from agencies)

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