Obama: ‘The world meets the moment’ on climate

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The landmark Paris climate agreement will enter into force November 4, now that the number of countries ratifying the accord has surpassed a key threshold.

“If we follow through on the commitments that this agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet,” President Obama said October 5, speaking from the Rose Garden at the White House.

Ratifying the Paris agreement is a big step toward tackling climate change.

The deal takes effect 30 days after 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions, have adopted it. The European Union and 10 countries submitted ratification documents on October 5, reaching the threshold.

On September 3, the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters, officially joined the accord, urging other countries to join as soon as they were able.

“It’s clearly a momentous moment in terms of global action on climate change,” said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute. “This has been much more rapid than anticipated and demonstrates political support for the agreement.”

The Paris agreement commits rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The agreement requires countries to report on emissions and their progress on reaching the goals in the national climate plans they submitted to the United Nations.

“Today it is crystal clear that we have finally woken up,” Secretary of State John Kerry said. “We have learned from the false starts of the past, and we are now — finally — on the path to protecting the future for our children, our grandchildren and generations to come.”

With the agreement set to enter into force, the world will turn its focus to implementation. The next U.N. climate conference starts November 7 in Marrakech, Morocco.

ShareAmerica contributed to this article.