In a symbolic photo opportunity designed to remind the public of its duty to protect the health of future generations, Secretary of State John Kerry brought his young granddaughter with him to the United Nations as he signed an international commitment to curb the pace of global warming.
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Over 150 nations are expected to sign the agreement today, a truly historic feat based on a previous accord set in Paris that aims to limit the Earth's temperature to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Kerry hoisted his granddaugther onto his lap in front of a large assembly gathered for the signing ceremony, kissing her on the cheek after adding his signature on behalf of the United States. Isabelle Dobbs-Higginson, 2, is the only child of Kerry's eldest daughter, Alexandra Kerry, and her husband, Julian Dobbs-Higginson.
Today's agreement, signed on Earth Day, marks the first time the world's most prolific polluters, including the U.S., Europe, China and India, have all agreed to set specific, verifiable goals to reduce carbon emissions and dependency on fossil fuels. The deal also calls on countries such as Brazil to enforce strict policies on deforestation.
The deal still has to be ratified by each signatory nation. In the United States, President Obama is expected to ratify the agreement through executive action, bypassing a Republican Congress skeptical of the overwhelming consensus presented by climate scientists. The deadline for ratification is April 21, 2017, one year from now.