The breakthrough in Copenhagen came when President Obama gathered together the leaders of the main developing nations, China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
Behind closed doors they thrashed out a deal adjudged to be acceptable to most if not all the climate summit delegates.
EU leaders grudgingly agreed after China accepted a method for verifying industrialised nations’ emissions reductions which had been a major stumbling block.
The text of their proposals was then put to the plenary session but low lying island nations were having none of it.
The delegate for Pacific island nation Tuvalu said he could not accept the compromise – which does not entail a legally binding target for cutting CO2 emissions – nor does it aim to contain temperature rises to within the two degrees celsius which, according to scientists is the required limit to avert serious climate change.
The Sudanese negotiator bizarrely went as far as to compare the deal to the Holocaust claiming he was being asked to put his name to a suicide pact causing huge embarrassment all round.
Several South American countries led by Venezuela also complained that due process had not been followed. But in time the officiating president simply announced the conference had “taken note of the Accord”.
Cue the applause, some delegates were obviously more thrilled than others with the outcome.