UNITED NATIONS, United States: A record 175 countries, including the world’s top polluters China and the United States, signed the Paris climate deal Friday (Saturday in Manila), boosting hopes of quick action on combating global warming.
French President Francois Hollande was the first leader to put his signature to the accord during a ceremony at the United Nations, followed by leaders from island-states hardest hit by climate change.
US Secretary of State John Kerry came to the podium cradling his two-year-old granddaughter Isabelle and triggered warm applause from delegates as he signed the historic deal.
It was the largest ever one-day signing of an international agreement.
Held on Earth Day, the ceremony comes four months after the hard-won deal was clinched in Paris and marks a first step toward binding countries to the promises they made to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is a moment in history,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly.
“Today you are signing a new covenant with the future.”
Holdout countries still have a year to sign the deal, but the focus has now turned to swift ratification and entry into force before the target date of 2020.
The Paris agreement will come into force when 55 countries responsible for 55 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases have ratified it.
Together the signatories at the UN ceremony account for 93 percent of global greenhouse gases, according to calculations by the World Resource Institute.
France’s parliament will give final approval before this summer, Hollande said, urging the 28-nation European Union to “lead by example” and ratify the deal before the end of the year.
Momentum is building to ensure the agreement enters into force quickly.
China and the United States said they will ratify this year and are pushing for others to follow suit so that the agreement becomes operational possibly as early as late 2016 or in 2017.