April 23, 2016 - 11:38 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - China and the United States, the world's top producers of greenhouse gas emissions, pledged on Friday, April 22 to formally adopt by the end of the year a Paris deal to slow global warming, raising the prospects of it being enforced much faster than anticipated, Reuters reports.
The United Nations said 175 states took the first step of signing the deal on Friday, the biggest day one endorsement of a global agreement. Of those, 15 states also formally notified the United Nations that they had ratified the deal.
Many countries still need a parliamentary vote to formally approve the agreement, which was reached in December. The deal will enter into force only when ratified by at least 55 nations representing 55 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
China and the United States together account for 38 percent of global emissions.
"China will finalize domestic legal procedures on its accession before the G20 Hangzhou summit in September this year," China's Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli told the UN signing ceremony, attended by some 55 heads of state and government.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who signed the deal with his 2-year-old granddaughter Isabelle on his lap, said the United States "looks forward to formally joining this agreement this year." President Barack Obama will formally adopt the agreement through executive authority.
The deal commits countries to restraining the global rise in temperatures to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. But even if the pact is fully implemented, promised greenhouse gas cuts are insufficient to limit warming to an agreed maximum, the United Nations says.
The first three months of 2016 have broken temperature records and 2015 was the planet's warmest year since records began in the 19th century, with heat waves, droughts and rising sea levels.
"The era of consumption without consequences is over," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday. "We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies. And we must support developing countries in making this transition."