China and the US – responsible for around 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions – today jointly ratified the Paris climate change deal that aims to significantly reduce global emissions, giving hopes that the landmark accord may come into effect by the end of this year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama gave documents to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon here entering their nations into global climate change pact.
Their approval to the agreement came a day ahead of the key summit of G20 nations in Hangzhou, where the leaders of the world’s 20 strong economies will meet.
China and the US together are responsible for around 40 percent of the world’s emissions so their ratification of the international legal document is viewed crucial.
In a speech at a ceremony in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Obama said the Paris deal was the “single best chance that have to deal with a problem that could end up transforming this planet”.
“We are moving the world significantly towards the goal we have set,” he said, adding that history would show that the Paris deal would “ultimately prove to be a turning point”.
Earlier today, China’s parliament ratified the agreement, with President Xi saying his country was “solemnly” committed to the deal.
“We need to take an innovative approach to climate change,” he said in Hangzhou.
The Paris Agreement is the third attempt to address the issue of climate change, after the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The accord, which sets ambitious goals for capping global warming and funnelling trillions of dollars to poor countries, will come into effect 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified it.
Lawmakers of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress voted to adopt “the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement,” state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
“Ratifying the agreement accords with China’s policy of actively dealing with climate change,” according to the proposal, which added that addressing climate change would help the country realise sustainable development.
China along with 195 other countries signed the Paris Agreement at UN Headquarters in New York on April 22, Earth Day, sending a strong messaging to the international community as it joins forces against global warming.
The Paris accord (COP21) aims to reverse temperature increase, mainly caused by carbon emissions. It sets a target to hold the global average rise in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and preferably below 1.5 degrees.
It is a major milestone, especially after the failed climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009 and disputes among countries on their responsibilities.