Leaders from a record 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement on climate change Friday as the landmark deal took a key step forward, potentially entering into force years ahead of schedule. Secretary of State John Kerry, holding his young granddaughter, joined dozens of world leaders for a signing ceremony that set a record for international diplomacy: Never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day. States that didn’t sign Friday have a year to do so.
We are in a race against time. The era of consumption without consequences is over.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Many now expect the climate agreement to enter into force long before the original deadline of 2020. Some say it could happen this year. After signing, countries must formally approve the Paris Agreement through their domestic procedures. China, the world’s top carbon emitter, announced it will “finalize domestic procedures” to ratify the Paris Agreement before the G-20 summit in China in September. The United States also has said it intends to join the agreement this year. The world is watching anxiously: Analysts say that if the agreement enters into force before President Obama leaves office in January, it would be more complicated for his successor to withdraw from the deal, because it would take four years to do so under the agreement’s rules.
There is no turning back now.
French President François Hollande, the first to sign the agreement