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Consensus on climate change is growing among business and financial operators and in the civil society, thanks to the work of scientists and climate activists. Global climate change negotiations however, are not making symmetrical progress and suffer from the usual setbacks: insufficient commitment and the lack of convincing mechanisms even on the part of the signatories of the Paris agreement. The article attempts to assess this progress rationally by looking at the climate change debate in a historical perspective in order to understand the main issues at stake.