THE U.S. and China, two of the world’s largest carbon emitters, have agreed to adopt the Paris climate change agreement.
The countries’ leaders, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping, are currently in the Chinese city of Hangzhou for the G20 summit, along with leaders from other member nations.
On Saturday, China’s official news agency Xinhua said members of the country’s legislative body, the National People’s Congress, had voted “to review and ratify” the unprecedented deal.
According to the report, ratifying the agreement would “further advance China’s green, low-carbon development and safeguard environmental security” and was “conducive to China’s development interests”.
Obama has described the decision as “pivotal”, adding that putting the Paris agreement into motion was the “single best chance that have to deal with a problem that could end up transforming this planet”.
Collectively, the two countries are responsible for creating nearly 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, which are linked to climate change.
Last year, leaders from the around the world gathered to put together the comprehensive climate agreement.
However, it needs to be ratified by at least 55 countries producing 55 percent of global man-made carbon emissions before it can officially be enforced.
The decision by the U.S. and China to commit to the agreement is said to be a huge step forward in making the Paris deal a reality, as it is expected to spur other countries to do the same.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised China and the U.S. for their decision, calling its leaders “far-sighted, bold and ambitious”.
However, some climate experts have warned that the climate deal is too weak, recommending urgent action to cut emissions.
A spokesman for environmental group Friends of the Earth, Asad Rehman, told the BBC: “The Paris agreement is a step in the right direction, but the reality is it’s too weak and delays action to the next decade.”
Additional reporting from Associated Press