More than 130 countries will sign climate deal on Earth Day

More than 130 countries will sign climate deal on Earth Day
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The United Nations says more than 130 countries have committed to sign the Paris climate change deal during a kickoff ceremony on April 22, Earth Day. 

In a statement, the U.N. said representatives of the nations, including 60 world leaders, will meet in New York in two weeks to sign the landmark climate deal, hatched by negotiators in Paris in December. 

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During a summit in Washington, D.C. last week, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping said they would both sign the accord the first day it’s open for signatures, calling it an important signal to other nations that the world’s top polluters were committed to the deal.

“Our cooperation and our joint statements were critical in arriving at the Paris agreement, and our two countries have agreed that we will not only sign the agreement on the first day possible, but we're committing to formally join it as soon as possible this year,” Obama said alongside Xi last Friday.  

The climate deal is the first major international agreement to focus on climate change by setting greenhouse gas reduction goals around the world. The United States was among the countries pushing hardest for the deal, with Obama pledging a 26 to 28 percent reduction in American emissions from 2005 levels by 2025. 

The deal was crafted in December, but it doesn’t take effect until 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions sign it. The deal itself is not legally binding. 

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will host a signing ceremony on April 22 at the U.N. headquarters in New York. French President François Hollande and Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the U.N. climate change office, will attend the ceremony.