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Historic Global Climate Agreement Signing Dares Us to Dream

Unprecedented signing ceremony signals political momentum
Jeff Schultz / National Geographic Creative
April 21, 2016
New York, NY —

Tomorrow, world leaders from at least 150 countries are expected to sign the historic Paris agreement, an important collective step toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions and a strong signal to the markets that governments are serious about a move away from fossil fuels.   

The agreement marks the first time that both developed and developing nations have agreed to cut emissions, with the biggest contributors to climate change including the United States, China, and India all participating.  In aiming to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, with 1.5 degrees as the new lodestar, the agreement makes strides to ramp up ambition as the best science demands.

The signing ceremony reflects a very strong collective desire to put the Paris Agreement into practice as soon as possible. The Agreement enters into force once 55 countries, producing at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, sign and ratify the agreement. With President Obama expected to accept the Paris Agreement as a presidential executive agreement, and so many nations including China stepping up to sign, there is good reason to hope that the agreement will enter into force well before 2020.

The following statement is from Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen:

“Tomorrow, Earth Day, leaders from more than 150 countries are signing the historic climate agreement reached in Paris.  Their signatures represent an unprecedented commitment to come together, across borders, across continents, to preserve our amazing planet.  

“The Paris Agreement delivers a powerful signal to business, investors and communities that fossil fuels are not our future. Building on this foundation, it is time to work harder and faster to embrace the clean energy solutions we have in reach. Every country can and must achieve even deeper emissions cuts and make more generous commitments to clean energy finance. We will be pushing United States leaders to come forward with a more ambitious pledge in 2018. 

“If we choose to deliver on the aspirations that are bringing 150 leaders together in New York City tomorrow, this Earth Day can go down in history as the day we declared our independence from fossil fuels.”