HANGZHOU, China, September 6, 2016 (ENS) – On Saturday, ahead of the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, the United States and China deposited with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon their respective instruments to join the Paris Climate Agreement, agreed last December by 195 countries.

For the agreement to take effect and enter into force, at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions need to formally join the agreement.

Together, the United States and China represent about 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping and United States President Barack Obama at a climate pact ratification ceremony in Hangzhou, China, Sept. 3, 2016. Photo by Eskinder Debebe / UN)

The action by the United States and China moves the agreement towards entry into force this year with countries representing more than 40 percent of global emissions having now joined and more than 55 countries having already joined or publicly committed to work towards joining the agreement this year.

“This Summit has witnessed major steps forward on climate change,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, commending the leaders of China and the United States for officially joining the Paris climate accord by depositing their legal documents with him.

Legal processes must be concluded in parallel with a renewed commitment by all the countries to honor their pledges. With the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters making this historic step, 26 parties to the Paris Agreement and 39 percent of global greenhouse emissions have been accounted for. Another 29 countries and 16 percent more of global emissions will bring the convention into force, Ban explained.

“I am hopeful and optimistic that we can do it before the end of this year and before my term as Secretary-General of the United Nations ends,” he said.

The UN chief will convene a special event on September 21 at UN Headquarters in New York for the deposit of instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The event will provide an opportunity to other countries to publicly commit to the agreement before the end of 2016.

To the climate change deniers or skeptics, Ban said, “The debate over the climate phenomenon is over, scientifically and environmentally: it is affecting our daily lives.”

“In that regard, the actions taken by early ‘ratifiers’ like China and the United States – those are the two biggest emitters – are far-reaching, visionary. They are working for the people, they are working for planet Earth,” Ban said.

China’s legislature on Saturday ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Lawmakers voted to adopt “the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement,” at the closing meeting of the bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said following the G20 summit’s conclusion on Monday, “The leaders agreed to deepen cooperation on financial inclusion, green finance and climate funds, and formulated an action plan on energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

On Saturday, President Barack Obama said, “We are here together because we believe that for all the challenges that we face, the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other challenge.”

“One of the reasons I ran for this office was to make sure that America does its part to protect this planet for future generations,” said Obama. “Over the past seven and a half years, we’ve transformed the United States into a global leader in the fight against climate change. But this is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone. That’s why last December’s Paris Agreement was so important. Nearly 200 nations came together - a strong, enduring framework to set the world on a course to a low-carbon future.”

“Someday we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet,” said the U.S. president.

“There are no shortage of cynics who thought the agreement would not happen. But they missed two big things: The investments that we made to allow for incredible innovation in clean energy, and the strong, principled diplomacy over the course of years that we were able to see pay off in the Paris Agreement. The United States and China were central to that effort. Over the past few years, our joint leadership on climate has been one of the most significant drivers of global action,” said Obama.

Obama traced the history of the U.S.-China effort to protect the planet from climate change.

“In 2014, President Xi and I stood together in Beijing to announce landmark climate targets for our two countries to meet. That announcement set us on the road to Paris by jumpstarting an intense diplomatic effort to put other countries on the same course. In 2015, we stood together in Washington to lay out additional actions our two countries would take, along with a roadmap for ultimately reaching a strong agreement in Paris. This year, in 2016, we meet again to commit formally to joining the agreement ahead of schedule, creating the prospect that the agreement might enter into force ahead of schedule, as well.”

French President Francois Hollande on his Facebook account hailed the joint move, while UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa said in a statement that it opens up an avenue for the world’s sustainable development.

Greenpeace International said in a statement, “The Hangzhou G20 communique issued today brings climate change to the center stage of the global agenda and sends a strong signal for all nations to join the Paris Agreement as soon as possible.”

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