The fossil fuel industry has taken a very cavalier bet that China, India and the developing world will continue to block any serious effort to curb greenhouse emissions, and that there is, in any case, no viable alternative to oil, gas or coal for decades to come.
Both assumptions were still credible six years ago when the Copenhagen climate summit ended in acrimony, poisoned by a North-South split over CO2 legacy guilt and the allegedly prohibitive costs of green virtue.
At that point the International Energy Agency (IEA) was still predicting that solar power would struggle to reach 20 gigawatts by now. Few could have foretold that it would in fact explode to 180 gigawatts – over three times Britain’s total power output – as costs plummeted, and that almost half of all new electricity installed in the US in 2013 and 2014 would come from solar.
Any suggestion that a quantum leap in the technology of energy storage might soon conquer the curse of wind and solar intermittency was dismissed as wishful thinking, if not fantasy.
Six years later there can be no such excuses. As The Telegraph reported yesterday, 155 countries have submitted plans so far for the COP21climate summit to be held by the United Nations in Paris this December. These already cover 88pc of global CO2 emissions and include the submissions of China and India.