Global Climate Change Pact Approved at COP 21 Conference in Paris

PHOTO: Activists gather during a demonstration near the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Dec.12, 2015 during the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. PlayThibault Camu/AP Photo
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A global accord to fight climate change was approved today in a vote by the nearly 200 nationals involved in the COP21 conference in Paris.

Shortly after the announcement the White House tweeted its approval from President Obama's account, saying "This is huge."

The announcement was followed by several minutes of applause, hugging at the podium, and tears from supporters in the audience.

Secretary of State John Kerry praised the accord and the means by which it came to be adopted, saying, "This is in the interest of every nation on earth."

Kerry thanked the delegations for their cooperation, energy, commitment and "remarkable spirit of collegiality."

A fact sheet released by the White House -- the administration's first statement since the announcement -- said the "ambitious" and "transparent" agreement establishes a "long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions."

"For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review," the fact sheet said.

"The deal builds on the unprecedented participation of 187 countries that submitted post-2020 climate action targets in advance of the meeting, and establishes a framework to ratchet up ambition by driving down global emissions in the decades to come," the fact sheet said.

"This new global framework lays the foundation for countries to work together to put the world on a path to keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and sets an ambitious vision to go even farther than that," said the fact sheet. "This Agreement sends a strong signal to the private sector that the global economy is moving towards clean energy, and that through innovation and ingenuity, we can achieve our climate objectives while creating new jobs, raising standards of living and lifting millions out of poverty."

"We came together around the strong agreement the world needed," Obama said today from the White House. "Together we’ve shown what’s possible when the world stands as one.”

Reflecting on his hopes to one day enjoy being outside with his grandchildren, Obama stressed that the agreement will set in motion actions that will allow future generations to thrive in a world with safer ecosystems.

“We may not live to see the full realization of our achievement,” Obama said. “But that’s okay.”

“This agreement represents the best chance we have to save the one planet we’ve got," said Obama.

Obama traveled to the Paris conference two weeks ago and was one of several world leaders to deliver a speech in the opening session.

"Let's secure an agreement that builds in ambition," Obama said on Nov. 30. "Where progress paves the way for regularly updated targets -- targets that are not set for each of us but by each of us, taking into account the differences that each nation is facing.”

PHOTO: White bears costumed activists demonstrate near the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Dec.12, 2015 during the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference.Matt Dunham/AP Photo
White bears costumed activists demonstrate near the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Dec.12, 2015 during the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

A 31-page draft of the pact, called the "Paris Agreement," was released earlier today after two weeks of talks. Both UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and French President Francois Hollande asked member nations to come together to adopt the agreement.

"The time has come to acknowledge that national interests are best served by acting in the international interest," Moon said. "We have to do as science dictates. We must protect the planet that sustains us. We need all our hands on deck."

The "final draft" agreement was voted on after it was distributed to the delegates for review. Among the points mentioned in the document is the nations "recognizing that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries."