Kerry to sign Paris climate deal on Friday

Kerry to sign Paris climate deal on Friday
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Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryKerry and his dog stroll through women's march Trump fails to mention Clinton in inaugural address Hillary Clinton under microscope at inauguration MORE will sign the landmark United Nations climate change deal on Friday on the United States's behalf.

Kerry will travel to New York on Earth Day to sign the pact during a U.N. event, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday. He will also give a speech about the U.S.’s commitments under the deal, which was forged in Paris last December, and participate in other events surrounding its signing. 

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“The swift action by so many countries — every climate, every size, every economy — is really a testament to the undeniable momentum coming out of Paris,” the official said.

“It’s spurring not only swift action on the Paris agreement itself but really continued progress on our collective efforts to move to clean energy, to low carbon, to a climate-friendly future.”

The Paris deal marks the first time the international community has agreed to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world. 

The signing on Friday is the first step toward getting the deal off the ground. Countries signing the deal are indicating their intention to join the pact and work toward its goals. The agreement doesn’t take effect, however, until at least 55 countries formally join it. Nations producing 55 percent of the world's emissions must be included in that group.

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping both agreed to join the deal sometime this year, a major commitment coming from the world’s two largest polluters. The State official said the administration is currently working through the behind-the-scenes formalities required to join the pact, adding that that “more than a dozen” countries are prepared the join the deal soon.

“Friday is another critical milestone on the path toward confronting the threats, and entry into force is a critical next step beyond that,” the official said. “So while a record number of countries sign the agreement on Friday, the next step really is to join the agreement.”

Obama pushed hard to secure the agreement, pledging the U.S. will reduce its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 as part of the deal. 

The agreement is non-binding, however, allowing it to bypass a ratification process in the Republican-controlled Senate.