Environment

U.S. and China Formally Join Historic Paris Climate Agreement

The two nations are the world's biggest carbon emitters, together accounting for almost 40 percent of global emissions.

President Barack Obama, President Xi Jinping of China and United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon exchange greetings at the conclusion of a climate event at West Lake State House in Hangzhou, China, Sept. 3, 2016.
Photo Credit: Pete Souza/Whitehouse.gov

The United States and China formally joined the Paris Agreement on climate change Saturday, committing the world’s two biggest emitters to keep warming below 2˚C, with best efforts to limit warming to 1.5˚C.

President Obama and President Xi Jinping delivered the news in a joint announcement in Beijing, continuing a string of cooperation on climate change and energy between the two superpowers over the last two years.

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Together the U.S. and China account for 38.76 percent of the world’s emissions, bringing the Paris Agreement substantially closer to covering the required 55 percent of emissions before the Agreement can enter into force.

A spate of countries are expected to join following the Chinese and American announcement, bringing the total number of countries that have ratified closer to the required 55 before the agreement can go into effect.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has repeatedly said that he intends for the Paris Agreement to meet both thresholds by the end of 2016, a goal shared by President Obama and many other heads of state.