The United States and China – the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters – have formally ratified the Paris climate agreement, bringing its entry into force a big step closer.


U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping deposited their respective instruments to join the agreement with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Hangzhou, China, on 3 September, ahead of a summit of the G20 group of leading economies.


“The two Presidents call on all other Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to join the Paris Agreement as early as possible with the expectation of the Agreement’s entry into force this year,” the White House said in a statement. 


The Paris Agreement, adopted by 195 parties to the UNFCCC last December, calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.


It enters into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention, accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 % of total global emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the UN Depositary in New York.


The announcement by the United States and China, which together account for nearly 38 per cent of global emissions, puts the balance at just over 39 percent of the global total, based on the information from countries provided to the UN.


“Now, by formally joining the Paris Agreement, you have added powerful momentum to the drive for the Agreement to enter into force this year,” Ban said, adding that 26 countries have now ratified the deal. “We need another 29 countries representing 16 per cent of global emissions to bring this Paris Agreement into force.”


“I am hopeful and optimistic that we can do it before the end of this year and before my term as Secretary-General of the United Nations ends,” he added.


Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said: “I would like today to thank China and the United States for ratifying this landmark agreement—an agreement on which rests the opportunity for a sustainable future for every nation and every person. The earlier that Paris is ratified and implemented in full, the more secure that future will become.”


Read the full White House statement here.


Read coverage from the UN News Centre here.


Read the full UNFCCC reaction here.


For media coverage of the story by Reuters, click here.