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#EarthDay2016: US Joins Countries of the World in Signing Paris Agreement

More than 170 countries are marking #EarthDay2016 by following through on their expressed intentions to sign the text of the Paris Agreement adopted by 196 countries in December.

The next step in making the Paris Agreement international law will come when all the signing nations ratify the agreement. President Obama has expressed his intention to ratify the agreement before he leaves office.

A primary goal of the agreement is to keep a global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The United Nations (@UNFCCC) tweeted on Friday at 11:00 a.m. ET that France was the first country to sign the agreement at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

paris agreement

Secretary John Kerry, with his granddaughter on his lap, signed the agreement on behalf of the U.S. The U.S. Department of State (@StateDept) tweeted the signing on Friday at about 11:30 a.m. ET.

According to a webcast of the ceremony tweeted by the State Department, Kerry said in a speech in New York: “It is an enormous privilege to be here on Earth Day to join in signing this historic agreement … For certain today is a day to mark and to celebrate the hard work done by so many to win the battle of securing the Paris Agreement.”

Kerry noted that the power of the Paris Agreement is in the signal that it sends to the marketplace.

“It is the unmistakable signal that innovation, entrepreneurial activity, the allocation of capital, the decisions that governments make — all of this is what we now know definitively is what is going to define the new energy future,” he said.

He pointed to the significant investment in clean technologies that already has been made in recent years, noting that “tens of trillions” of dollars will be spent on new energy resources by the middle of this century in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Today, we know the new energy future, the efficiencies, the alternative resources, the clean options — none of what we have to achieve is beyond our capacity technologically,” he said. “The only question is whether it is beyond our collective resolve.”