The United States and China just announced that they will formally join the Paris climate agreement. The world’s top two contributors to global warming account for 37.98 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (17.89 percent US, 20.09 percent China). The Paris climate deal needs to be ratified by 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions in order for the agreement to enter into force. The US and China announcement brings the total ratifications to 26 and total emissions to 39.06 percent.

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US President Barack Obama confirmed on Saturday that the US would join the Paris climate agreement. He was accompanied at the announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. China announced its ratification earlier in the day in a report from the country’s official news agency, Xinhua, stating that the parliament, the National People’s Congress, had voted to ratify. The announcements gave momentum to the G20 summit that was scheduled to start the next day in Hangzhou.

Related: Paris climate deal update: North Korea ratification pushes GHG ticker over 1%

“Just as I believe the Paris agreement will ultimately prove to be a turning point for our planet, I believe that history will judge today’s efforts as pivotal,” said Obama. “Our response to climate change bears on the future of our people and the well-being of mankind,” Xi said.

Ranping Song, China expert at the World Resources Institute, told The Guardian that the US and China ratifications will lead to a September surge with major emitters such as Brazil following the world’s two biggest polluters and formally joining the Paris climate deal. Song said the US and China moves increase the chances that the Paris climate agreement will be implemented by the end of the year. “This would not be happening without the US and China ratifying the agreement,” he said.

+ Paris Agreement Tracker

Via The Guardian

Images via US Embassy the Hague and Michael Davis-Burchat