The U.S. and China formally joined an international climate summit Saturday, potentially placing added pressure on other major countries to sign the treaty.
President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping ratified the global climate deal in China as United Nations President Ban Ki-moon presided over the signing. The meeting, conducted in Hangzhou, China, ensures the two largest economies have officially moved forward on promises hashed out during December’s Paris agreement.
The deal was signed by most of the 196 countries in Paris, but ultimately needs 55 countries and 55 percent of the world’s carbon emitters to buy into the agreement in order for it to have teeth.
Brian Deese, a senior adviser to Obama, said the announcement was a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. and China are serious about the deal.
“The sooner the Paris Agreement actually enters into force, the sooner the parties can work on the implementation issues that need to be hammered out,” he said.
The deal seeks to reduce Earth’s temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.
While the U.S. and China represent about 38 percent of the world’s emissions, recent reports from the Energy Information Administration project that more than 68 percent of overall carbon emissions are likely to come from poorer countries, or those outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
China and India, not the U.S., are likely to make up the lion’s share of that number, according to the report.
Carbon emissions worldwide will go up by one-third by 2040, due in large part to the growth of coal power in China and India, which runs counter to China’s promise to peak its emissions by 2030.
China pledged in 2014 to discontinue its carbon emission buildups by 2030. The promise made it easier for Obama to secure a U.N. climate deal in Paris last December. But the Asian country’s coal buildup erodes the promise China made.
Energy industry analysts immediately pounded Obama’s decision to fully join the agreement.
It’s an “absolute disgrace” for Obama to ink the deal without consent from Congress, Jay Lehr, science director at the free-market think tank the Heartland Institute, told reporters shortly before Obama and Jinping formalized the agreement.
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