US, China Ratify Paris Agreement on Climate Change Making Early Entry into Force More Likely

Statements by Alden Meyer, Rachel Cleetus and Ken Kimmell at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Sep 3, 2016

HANGZHOU, CHINA (September 3, 2016)—Today, in advance of the G20 meeting in China, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly announced their ratification of the Paris Agreement—a historic, global climate change agreement adopted last December.

These two countries are responsible for 38 percent of all global warming emissions. The agreement requires 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions to ratify or join the pact before it can enter into force.

Below is a statement by Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a leading expert on the United Nation’s international climate negotiations.

“Today’s announcement, coupled with other key countries signaling intentions to take similar action, all but assures the Paris Agreement will take effect this year. Logistically, negotiations on the agreement’s detailed rules will likely take another year or two to finalize, and all countries will need to raise the ambition of their commitments under the agreement if we’re to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and reach a goal of net zero global warming emissions by mid-century. But this is an important step forward that reinforces the U.S. and China’s continued leadership in building a robust, durable international climate framework.”

Below is a statement by Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager at UCS.

“While China and the U.S. are top carbon emitters, they’re also the world’s two biggest economies and producers of renewable energy. With these two powerhouses ratifying the Paris Agreement, global businesses and investors have a clear market signal that the world is seeking to limit climate change impacts by getting on a low-carbon pathway quickly. There’s a lot of work ahead to realize the full promise of Paris, but the global transition to a decarbonized, climate-resilient economy just got a big boost.”

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of UCS. Kimmell is the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative board chair.

“Having now ratified the historic Paris Agreement, it’s imperative that the U.S. continues to lead by example by meeting its 2025 emission reduction pledge. In a few weeks, the Court of Appeals will hear legal arguments on the validity of EPA’s Clean Power Plan—a key component of our international pledge. A ruling upholding the plan would send an important signal to the world that the U.S. has the policies and legal authority necessary to not only make good on its promise, but also  to achieve even more ambitious emission reductions.”