To rapturous applause, they signed up to the first truly global climate change agreement under the umbrella of the United Nations, following all-night talks in Cancun.

The negotiations, at a luxury resort in Mexico, repeatedly came close to collapsing as different countries tabled objections. Eventually only Bolivia refused to accept the deal, on the grounds that it would not be enough to end global warming, which it described as “tantamount to genocide”.

But as exhausted delegates became increasingly impatient, the protests of the radical South American country were swept aside. Apparently losing her temper, Patricia Espinosa, the Mexican Foreign Secretary who presided over the talks, gavelled through the agreement in the early hours of the morning.