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US, China ratify Paris Agreement on climate change

Presidents Barack Obama & Xi Jinping
Presidents Barack Obama & Xi Jinping

The United States and China have formally ratified the Paris agreement on Climate Change.

The Paris Agreement's ratification ceremony took place Saturday afternoon, September 3, 2016, ahead of the G-20 Summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

The action by the world's two biggest polluters (the United States and China) is aimed at curbing climate change.

According to the BBC, the Agreement was ratified by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping of the United States and China, respectively. 

The joint declaration is a major stride towards the global accord being put in force by the end of the year (2016). The meeting is likely being their final before a new president enters the White House early 2017, the BBC also said.

China and the rest of the world will find themselves at very different points in development during the Hangzhou G-20 summit.

"This is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone," Mr Obama said alongside Mr Xi just hours after touching down in China Saturday afternoon. "Some day we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet."

Mr Xi called on other countries at the G-20 Summit to follow China's lead and ratify the Paris Agreement. "Our response to climate change bears on the future of our people and the wellbeing of mankind," he said.

The long-term cooperation on climate change between the two economic superpowers (the US and China) has represented a bright spot in what has otherwise been a tense relationship between the two men.

Such tense relationship, the BBC noted, has been overshadowed by disagreements over the South China Sea, accusations of cyber-espionage and trade disputes.

The two leaders had made previous joint statements on climate change at international summits in an effort to spur global action.

"Despite our differences on other issues, we hope that our willingness to work together on this issue will inspire greater ambition and greater action around the world," Mr Obama emphasized.

The Paris accord, agreed to in December, is the world's first comprehensive climate agreement that commits countries to cut emissions enough to keep the global average rise in temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.

It will come into force only after it is ratified by at least 55 countries, which produce between them at least 55 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Until Saturday, only 23 had done so among the 175 signatories, including France and a number of island states, threatened by rising sea levels.

But these island countries only contribute tiny amounts to global carbon emissions, with China and the US alone are responsible to almost 40 percent of total emissions worldwide.

Ratifying the agreement also accords with Beijing's domestic political agenda of having to be seen to clean up the environment after years of breakneck industrial development.

The many years of breakneck industrial development led to severe air, water and soil pollution.

The Australian Government said Wednesday it would seek to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change by the end of the year.
It has set a 2030 emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels.



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