CHINA, the world’s largest carbon emitter, was among the 175 countries which signed the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change on Friday.
China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua told reporters that the state was working “for humankind” and was “very positive” about the deal’s future.
He added that they planned to “finalize domestic procedures” to ratify the agreement before the G-20 summit in China in September.
Leaders from around the world gathered for the signing ceremony, which was symbolically held on Earth Day, easily setting a record in global diplomacy, as never before have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day. Countries that didn’t sign on Friday will have a year to do so.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Paris Agreement was “history in the making”. In his speech he spoke about rising global temperatures, record ice loss and unprecedented carbon levels in the atmosphere, adding that the world was now “in a race against time”.
“The era of consumption without consequences is over,” said Ban. “We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies.”
The agreement will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions have formally joined it, and Ban has urged countries to announce their timelines for the next step, which is ratifying the agreement in their respective countries.
At the gathering, prime minister of Pacific island Tuvalu, Enele Sosene Sopoaga, said the historic climate agreement must be transformed into “an international call to action” for the sake of future generations.
Since 2000, Tuvalu has seen four of its small islands disappear into the Pacific Ocean.
Sopoaga said Tuvalu was also ratifying the Paris Agreement on Friday and urged all countries to make sure it enters into force as soon as possible to ensure “that climate change is not irreversible.”
He added that small island developing countries urgently need better access to financing to protect against climate change, citing recent studies suggesting that an average of 62,000 people are displaced every day due to climate change or weather-related disasters — “a staggering figure” that “should ring alarm bells throughout the world.”
He also called for a U.N. General Assembly resolution to legally protect the rights and needs of people displaced by the impact of climate change.
Additional reporting by Associated Press