The agreement reached here on Saturday will, recipe if faithfully carried out, achieve far larger cuts in emissions than any previous climate accord.

It will reduce, without eliminating, the risk that runaway climate change might render parts of the Earth uninhabitable. It will lessen somewhat the possibility of a collapse of one of the ice sheets, which would cause a rise in the sea of 20 feet or more.

The deal, in short, begins to move the countries of the world in a shared direction that is potentially compatible with maintaining a livable planet over the long term.

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