China ratifies climate change deal agreed upon in Paris


China has ratified the Paris climate change deal, marking a major step towards the pact’s eventual implementation. The United States is also expected to ratify the agreement this year, possibly this weekend.

China’s National People’s Congress adopted “the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement,” according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The announcement comes as world leaders from the 20 largest economies, known as the Group of 20 (G20), began to arrive in China for a two-day summit in Hangzhou that begins on Sunday.

Some 180 countries have signed on to the agreement in Paris last December. But it doesn’t take effect until at least 55 countries – responsible for at least 55 percent of global warming emissions – formally ratify the deal.

Previously 24 nations had ratified the agreement – including North Korea – but those nations collectively account for just 1.08 percent of global emissions, according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Top two emitters

China, the world’s most populous country, with 1.38 billion people, is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The United States, with just 324 million people, is number two. The two countries account for about 20 percent and 18 percent, respectively, of global warming emissions.

Russia accounts for 7.5 percent, while India pumps out 4.1 percent.

The United States is also expected to ratify the deal shortly. Since it is an executive agreement, rather than a treaty, President Barack Obama can sign it without needing a vote from Congress, which would, in all likelihood, reject it.

In Paris, the countries agreed to a binding global compact for each country to decide how best to slash their own greenhouse emissions with the aim of keeping global temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) relative to the preindustrial revolution.

But experts have said the pace of global warming is already threatening to exceed the temperature target. The UN weather agency said 2016 is on pace to become the warmest since record-keeping began, breaking the previous record set last year.

The Paris agreement set ambitious goals for capping global warming and funneling trillions of dollars to poor countries facing an onslaught of climate damage.

bik/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)