President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping ratified a sweeping agreement to curb carbon emissions, accelerating the path toward implementation of the 200-nation accord that the world leaders hope to achieve by the end of the year.
After “depositing” their “instruments of acceptance” with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon -- handing over leather folders with signed documents tucked inside -- Xi and Obama committed to working together to combat climate change.
Obama said someday the world “may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”
“I believe that history will judge today’s efforts as pivotal,” Obama said, calling the accord the “single best chance” the world has to “deal with a problem that could end up transforming the planet.”
“Where there’s a will and there’s a vision, and where countries like China and the United States are prepared to show leadership and to lead by example, it is possible for us to create a world that is more secure, more prosperous, and more free than the one that was left for us,” Obama added.
Xi said, “This is a key moment of us to reaffirm commitment. He called the agreement a “milestone” in the fight to curb climate change.
"A Chinese saying goes: ‘Only commitment and decision will lead to great achievement,'” the Chinese leader added.
“We need to take an innovative approach to climate change,” Xi said. “A new global vision is needed to sustain development.”
Moon and Xi urged other global leaders to accelerate their domestic ratification processes.
Once 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of emissions formally ratify the agreement struck in Paris last December, it will be enforced. So far, with China and the United States’ ratification, nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions are covered.
Moon said he invited world leaders to a high-level event at the United Nations later this month in New York, urging them to come with instruments of ratification or a public commitment to join the accord by end of year.
“I count on your continued cooperation for the benefit of humankind,” Moon said.