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Countries Gather to Sign Paris Pact at UN Headquarters
   2016-04-22 20:57:24    Xinhua      Web Editor: Guan Chao

Photo taken on April 22, 2016 shows the signing ceremony of Paris climate deal at the United Nations headquarters in New York. [Photo: Xinhua/Li Muzi]

Related: Paris Climate Pact Opens for Signatures

China Signs Paris Agreement on Climate Change

China to Ratify Paris Agreement by September

Leaders from 171 countries gathered here Friday to sign the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, marking the first step toward the pact's entry into force.

"I urge all countries to move quickly to join the agreement at the national level so that the Paris Agreement can enter into force as early as possible," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening ceremony of the event.

Adopted by 196 parties last year in Paris, the pact sets a target of holding the global average rise in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably below 1.5 degrees.

Noting that the window for reaching that target is rapidly closing, Ban called on the global community to "intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies."

"The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create."

Speaking as a youth representative, 16-year-old Getrude Clement from Tanzania said that "as young people, the future is ours, but this is not the future we want for ourselves."

"We are not just sitting and watching our communities suffer. We are leading our communities by taking action, by standing up and speaking up about issues we see in our communities," she said.

"Climate change is a big problem for the entire planet, but the children, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, feel most of its effects, now and in the future," she said.

The agreement can enter into force 30 days after at least 55 parties that account for at least 55 percent of global emissions take further national steps to ratify it.

A key party to the agreement, China has pledged to cut its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, increase non-fossil fuel sources in primary energy consumption to about 20 percent, and peak its carbon emissions by 2030.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the signing ceremony, announced that China will finalize domestic legal procedures to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change before the G20 Hangzhou summit in September this year.

"The Chinese people honor their commitments. We will work hard to earnestly implement the Paris Agreement," Zhang said.

"We will launch a national emission trade market, substantially increase forest carbon sink. We will put in place a strict accountability system for environmental protection and ensure the implementation of all targets," he said.

The Chinese special envoy also stressed the importance of international cooperation on the fight against climate change.

"China will take an active part in the follow-up negotiations of the Paris Agreement. We will deepen South-South cooperation on climate change," he added.

After the opening ceremony, national leaders are being called to the podium in the UN General Assembly Hall to sign the agreement one by one.

Taking place on the International Mother Earth Day, the signing ceremony would break the first-day record for signatures which was set in 1982 when 119 states signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

After the signing, national representatives will have the chance to speak throughout the day and a high-level event on implementation will be convened in the afternoon.

After Friday, other countries still have one year to ink the agreement as it is open for signature till April 21, 2017.

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