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Together, U.S. and China Join Paris Agreement

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a joint ratification of the Paris climate change agreement ceremony ahead of the G20 Summit at the West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China, September 3, 2016.

On September 3rd in Hangzhou, China, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping formally joined the Paris Agreement.

Scientists have warned us that the impacts of climate change may be catastrophic and irreversible. Much of the problem is caused by human activity, particularly the emission of greenhouse gasses: by-products associated with the burning of fossil fuels and the use of hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in refrigeration.

To address climate change, the global community resolved to keep the temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, with the understanding that in order to do so, the world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So, on December 12th of last year, 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement, which establishes a global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For this document to come into force, at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions must formally join the Agreement.

The world’s two largest economies, the United States and China are also the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, combining for 38 percent of global emissions.

That is why, on September 3rd in Hangzhou, China, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping formally joined the Paris Agreement. They agreed to continue collaborating on new technologies and strategies to combat climate change, and to work together to phase down the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons as well as to promote a transition away from fossil fuels and towards low-carbon, climate-resilient economies.

“With both countries taking this important step forward, today the world comes significantly closer to bringing the Paris Agreement into force and honoring its commitment to future generations to address the dangerous impacts of climate change,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a written statement.

“Both the United States and China strongly urge others to join the [Paris] Agreement as soon as they are able, in hopes of meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s goal of bringing it into force this year. The urgency of this challenge is clear, and it is critical that global efforts move forward without delay.”