Hailing cooperation, U.S. and China join global climate deal

President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping sealed their nations’ participation in the 2015 Paris climate change agreement on September 3, hailing a new era of climate cooperation.

“This is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone,” Obama said. “Some day we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”

At a ceremony on the sidelines of a global economic summit, Obama and Xi, representing the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, delivered a series of documents to the United Nations. The papers certified the U.S. and China have taken the necessary steps to join the Paris accord that set nation-by-nation targets for cutting carbon emissions.

Xi said he hoped other countries would follow suit and advance new technologies to help them meet their targets. “When the old path no longer takes us far, we should turn to innovation,” he said.

The formal U.S.-Chinese announcement means the accord could enter into force by the end of the year, faster than anticipated. The agreement goes into effect only after it has been ratified by 55 nations, which taken together account for at least 55 percent of global emissions.

The U.S. and China together produce 38 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

Under the Paris agreement, countries are required to set national targets for reducing or reining in their greenhouse gas emissions.

The White House has attributed the accelerated pace to a partnership between Washington and Beijing. To build momentum for a deal, they set a 2030 deadline for China’s emissions to stop rising and announced their “shared conviction that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity.” The U.S. has pledged to cut its emissions by at least 26 percent over the next 15 years, compared to 2005 levels.

Has your country ratified the Paris agreement? Find out and follow progress at @US_Center or the World Resources Institute.