Credit: illustration by David Parkins

When more than 190 nations gather in Paris on 30 November to broker an agreement to mitigate climate change, it will be a turning point for the planet.

Nature special: 2015 Paris climate talks

A successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol has been a long time coming. A previous attempt to shape a global agreement fell apart in 2009, at talks in Copenhagen. Now the world is ready to try again, and for the first time, all countries are poised to take action (see page 418). But the history here is sobering: the quest to build a global climate treaty has hit many obstacles over the past 25 years. Its dramatic story is chronicled in a comic starting on page 427.

Although the United Nations aims to limit global warming to 2 °C, a News Feature on page 436 reveals that this will be much harder than many studies have indicated. Part of the difficulty will be ensuring that any treaty leads to actions with lasting global momentum, say climate-policy experts David Victor and James Leape (see page 439). But Johan Rockström, director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, argues on page 411 that Paris will be a success if it shows that the world is serious about addressing the climate problem.

To explore the backstory to the talks, historian Adam Rome reviews seminal books on sustainability from the 1960s and 1970s (see page 443). A News story explores the challenges facing the Green Climate Fund, a UN mechanism to help developing nations adapt to climate change (see page 419).

Online, Nature presents videos about the climate summit, as well as other unique material, at We will also cover the talks as they happen.

Any agreement reached in Paris will not solve the climate problem, but it could lay a solid foundation for collective action (see page 409). The quest to save the planet will continue for many more years.