France becomes first major nation to ratify Paris climate deal

France becomes first major nation to ratify Paris climate deal
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French President François Hollande formally ratified the Paris climate deal on Wednesday, making France the first major nation to do so.

More than 170 countries have signed the climate deal, which sees countries set individual greenhouse gas reduction goals as part of a strategy to combat climate change. But the deal won’t formally take effect until 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of the world’s emissions formally ratify the deal.

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Before France, 17 small countries representing less than 1 percent of global emissions have ratified the agreement, according to the World Resources Institute.

"Signing is good, ratifying is better," Hollande said at a ratification ceremony in Paris, AFP reports.

Major emitting countries like the United States have yet to ratify the deal, though Obama administration officials have said they are working toward doing so by the end of the year.

The U.S., China and India, three of the world’s four biggest emitters, have all agreed to ratify the deal this year, a step that would go a long way toward ensuring the deal kicks in before President Obama leaves office in January.   

France hosted the United Nations climate conference in December, where officials agreed to finalize an international agreement aimed at keeping the Earth from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

Under the terms of the agreement, the United States vowed to cut its emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent, from 2005 levels, by 2025. The European Union, of which France is a member, will look to cut its emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

Countries began signing the deal on April 22 — Earth Day — at a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York. Signing the deal indicates countries intend to formally join it at some point.