President Barack Obama, President Xi Jinping of China and United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon exchange greetings at the conclusion of a climate event at West Lake State House in Hangzhou, China, Sept. 3, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama: The United States Formally Enters the Paris Agreement

Today, the U.S. joined China in taking a major step forward in the global effort to combat climate change.

Last December, more than 190 countries adopted the Paris Agreement, the most ambitious climate change agreement in history. In order for the agreement to take effect and enter into force, at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions need to formally join the Agreement.

Today, the United States and China deposited with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon their respective instruments to join the Paris Agreement, marking a significant contribution towards the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

Today’s action by the United States and China to formally join is a significant step towards entry into force this year with countries representing around 40 percent of global emissions having now joined and more than 55 countries having already joined or publicly committed to work towards joining the agreement this year.

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold an expanded bilateral meeting at West Lake State House in Hangzhou, China, Sept. 3, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Read the President’s remarks:

We are here together because we believe that for all the challenges that we face, the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other challenge.

One of the reasons I ran for this office was to make sure that America does its part to protect this planet for future generations. Over the past seven and a half years, we’ve transformed the United States into a global leader in the fight against climate change. But this is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone. That’s why last December’s Paris Agreement was so important. Nearly 200 nations came together as — a strong, enduring framework to set the world on a course to a low-carbon future.

And someday we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.

In 2014, President Xi and I stood together in Beijing to announce landmark climate targets for our two countries to meet. That announcement set us on the road to Paris by jumpstarting an intense diplomatic effort to put other countries on the same course. In 2015, we stood together in Washington to lay out additional actions our two countries would take, along with a roadmap for ultimately reaching a strong agreement in Paris. This year, in 2016, we meet again to commit formally to joining the agreement ahead of schedule, creating the prospect that the agreement might enter into force ahead of schedule, as well.

The United States and China are taking that step today, as our two nations formally join the Paris Agreement.

Now, just as I believe the Paris Agreement will ultimately prove to be a turning point for our planet, I believe that history will judge today’s efforts as pivotal. For the agreement to enter into force, as has already been stated, 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions must formally join.

Together, the U.S. and China represent about 40 percent of global emissions. So today, we are moving the world significantly closer to the goal that we have set.

Of course, the Paris Agreement alone won’t solve the climate crisis. But it does establish an enduring framework that enables countries to ratchet down their carbon emissions over time, and to set more ambitious targets as technology advances. That means full implementation of this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change, and pave the way for more progress in the coming years.

This is the single-best chance that we have to deal with a problem that could end up transforming this planet in a way that makes it very difficult for us to deal with all the other challenges that we may face.

On each of these issues, the United States and China have now developed a significant record of leadership on one of the most important issues of our time. Our teams have worked together and developed a strong relationship that should serve us very well. And despite our differences on other issues, we hope that our willingness to work together on this issue will inspire greater ambition and greater action around the world.

Yes, diplomacy can be difficult, and progress on the world stage can be slow. But together, we’re proving that it is possible.

So to all of you that have participated in this extraordinary effort, thank you very much. Thank you to President Xi. Thank you to the Secretary General.

The Obama White House

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