Nearly 200 nations adopted the first global pact to fight climate change on Saturday, calling on the world to collectively cut and then eliminate greenhouse gas pollution but imposing no sanctions on countries that don’t.
Loud applause erupted in the conference hall outside Paris after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius gavelled the agreement Saturday. Some delegates started crying. Others embraced.
The countries had been negotiating the pact for four years after earlier attempts to reach such a deal failed.
This accord marks the first time all countries are expected to pitch in — the previous emissions treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, only included…rich countries. Canada signed on to Kyoto, but later backed out in 2011.
‘Canadians can be proud’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement calling the agreement “historic, ambitious and balanced.”
“Canadians can be proud of the strong and positive role we played during these very important international negotiations to address one of the biggest challenges of our generation,” he said. “There is much tough work that still needs to be accomplished both at home and around the world to implement the agreement.”
He promised to meet with the premiers within the next 90 days.
“We will move towards a climate resilient economy, and we will invest in public transit, green infrastructure and clean technologies to create new jobs and support our communities,” he said. “Internationally, we will provide significant support to help developing countries reduce their emissions and deal with the impacts of climate change.”
‘For our children’
U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the accord reached as strong and historic, calling it the best chance to save the planet from the effects of global climate change.
“Today the American people can be proud because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership. Over the past seven years, we’ve transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change,” Obama said.
He said the accord shows what is possible when the world stands as one, adding: “This agreement represents the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got.”
Shortly after the deal was adopted, Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna tweeted: “History is made. For our children.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it “a monumental triumph for people and planet.”
“History will remember this day,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the pact will “prevent the worst most devastating consequences of climate change from ever happening.”
“It’s a victory for all of the planet and for future generations,” he said.
Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira added: “Today, we’ve proven that it’s possible for every country to come together, hand in hand, to do its part to fight climate change.”
The agreement, South African Environment Minister Edna Molewa said, “can map a turning point to a better and safer world.”
The deal now needs to be ratified by individual governments — at least 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions — before taking effect in 2020.