This past weekend President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping officially signed the Paris Agreement on climate change with UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon. With that the world’s two largest economies, which produce roughly 40 percent of the world’s emissions, have joined other countries that have now ratified the historic accord to fight climate change. In agreeing to curb emissions the Presidents also reaffirmed their interests in using clean energy like solar power.
“We have a saying in America—that you need to put your money where your mouth is,” Obama said in remarks at the signing. “And when it comes to combatting climate change, that’s what we’re doing, both the United States and China. We’re leading by example. As the world’s two largest economies and two largest emitters, our entrance into this agreement continues the momentum of Paris, and should give the rest of the world confidence—whether developed or developing countries—that a low-carbon future is where the world is heading.
The accord is the most significant step, globally, toward curbing climate change across the world and more than 190 countries have signed their intent to ratify the document. However, as of Sept. 3, 2016, only 27 countries have ratified the document. For it to come into force at least 55 countries representing 55 percent of the world’s emissions must sign the document.
While the 28 european countries have signed the document, they have yet to ratify it. As part of the European Union, they, as well as the EU, are expected to sign it at the same time to ensure that each country fulfills their own obligations. If and when they do, the threshold for enforcement of the Paris Agreement will be met.
“This is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone,” Obama said. “That’s why last December’s Paris Agreement was so important. Nearly 200 nations came together as—a strong, enduring framework to set the world on a course to a low-carbon future. And someday we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”
“There are no shortage of cynics who thought the agreement would not happen,” Obama added. “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.”
Among the US’ efforts to curb climate change and increase renewable energy use, The White House said that the five-year extension of production and investment tax credits for wind and solar energy will increase the amount of renewable energy in the US by 100 gigawatts. It also said that its decision to pause new coal leasing on federal lands and reviewing the federal coal program impacts roughly 40 percent of the country’s coal supply.
Both the US and China also reaffirmed their intentions to prepare and publish “mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” as required under the Paris Agreement. The US plans to publish its strategy this year and China said it will prepare its strategy as soon as it can.Tweet