UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Leaders from at least 175 countries were signing the Paris Agreement on climate change Friday as the landmark deal took a key step forward, potentially entering into force years ahead of schedule.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, holding his young granddaughter, joined dozens of world leaders for a signing ceremony that set a record for international diplomacy: Never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day. States that don’t sign Friday have a year to do so.
“We are in a race against time,” U.N. secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering. “The era of consumption without consequences is over.”
Many now expect the climate agreement to enter into force long before the original deadline of 2020. Some say it could happen this year.
After signing, countries must formally approve the Paris Agreement through their domestic procedures. The United Nations says 15 countries, several of them small island states under threat from rising seas, were doing that Friday by depositing their instruments of ratification.