The United States and China ratify Paris climate agreement

3 September, 2016, China - The United States and China announced that they would formally ratify the Paris Climate Agreement, a pivotal step towards reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement comes on the eve of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, after weeks of negotiations between the two countries.

In a statement, President Barack Obama noted that the entry of the two countries will continue the momentum of Paris, and should give the rest of the world confidence, whether developed or developing countries - that a low-carbon future is where the world is heading. President Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, handed ratification document to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who said he was now optimistic the agreement will be in force by the end of the year.

In ratifying the agreement, the US and China will work to reduce emissions and pollutants that are linked to rising global temperatures. Their inclusion will help turn the agreement's goals into reality by convincing other nations to ratify it.

In order to take effect, the Paris agreement must be ratified by at least 55 nations representing 55 percent of the world’s emissions, and the ratification by the US and China has been hailed as a breakthrough. Together, the two nations create nearly 38 percent of the world’s emissions. So far, 180 countries have signed the agreement, while 26 have ratified it, accounting for a total of 39.06 percent of the world's emissions.

The Obama administration has implemented a number of steps to help reduce US emissions in the coming years, which include tax breaks for renewable energy sources and a pause on new coal leases.

UN Environment head Erik Solheim released the following statement in reaction to the joint announcement by China and the United States on the ratification of the Paris Agreement.

"This announcement is hugely important. The leadership of China and the United States is crucial to taking the Paris Agreement forward. They bring significant additional momentum to keeping global warming under 2 degrees. And by putting the well-being of our planet at the top of the agenda, the two largest economies in the world are also showing that our economic future is low-carbon and green. The fight against climate change remains difficult and urgent, but having heavy-hitters like China and the US on your side is extremely heartening."