Future of the Environment

Paris climate agreement: here's what world leaders have said

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the Paris Agreement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTSQXM3

Barack Obama: "This gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we’ve got." Image: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Jahda Swanborough
Lead, Environment Initiatives, Environment Initiatives,World Economic Forum
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Future of the Environment

European Union nations have agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, joining other large emitters including the United States, China, India and taking the accord across a legal threshold required to officially bring it into force.

The EU nations, as well as Canada, Bolivia and Nepal increased the backing for the 2015 Paris Agreement to 58.83% of global greenhouse gas emissions, above the 55% needed for implementation.

The deal aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature increases "well below" 2°C.

US President Barack Obama called the ratification of the Paris climate accord "a historic day in the fight to protect our planet for future generations. If we follow through on the commitments that this Paris agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet."

Here is a selection of quotes from world leaders on the landmark deal.

Barack Obama, US President

“Today, the world meets the moment. And if we follow through on the commitments that this agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet.”

“This agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change.”

“By sending a signal that this is going to be our future -- a clean energy future -- it opens up the floodgates for businesses, and scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation at a scale that we’ve never seen before. So this gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we’ve got.”

Xi Jinping, President of China

“When the old path no longer takes us far, we should turn to innovation.”

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
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Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico

“Today we are compelled to transform the way we live, produce and consume. We must bring economic development into harmony with social inclusion and environmental protection."

“The global community has adopted this agreement because the cost of inaction would be irreversible; and that is something that we, as humanity, cannot afford."

“The Paris Agreement represents the greatest global commitment to build a new climate regime, without slowing down economic and social development.”

Francois Hollande, President of France

“Signing the Paris Agreement aims to avoid tragedies. Climate change driven disasters, misery. We need to respond to the emergency.”

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

“It is no exaggeration to say that climate action is no more and no less than a survival issue.”

“[The Paris Agreement is] the first time that the entire world community has obligated itself to act – to act in the battle against global climate change.”

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

"Climate change will test our intelligence, our compassion and our will. But we are equal to that challenge."

Hilda C. Heine, President, Republic of the Marshall Islands

“We need to now turn our words into action. Without action, the Paris Agreement will just be a piece of paper.

“As a mother and grandmother, I know how important it is to bring people together to ensure that we can pass onto the future generations the beautiful planet that we all call home.”

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Taneti Maamau, head of State and President of the Republic of Kiribati

“Outcries of my people – and the younger generation – are becoming more constant. Meaning the sense of urgency and haste is real for Kiribati.”

“We have already shown our unity and now we can change the world.”

Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon

“We acknowledged the world is at a tipping point where irreparable damage is being done, and we cannot continue this way.”

“Conserving our natural environment, while not limiting economic opportunities for our people - that is the global challenge today; a challenge that requires new models of doing business, models that we all recognise are necessary, but which many of us still struggle to embrace.”

“As we look to the future, we cannot improve our living standards while simultaneously degrading the natural environment around us. If we do, we will certainly face a similar climate migration, sparking a humanitarian crisis. Africa is going to have to walk a tightrope if we are to achieve sustainable growth.”

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John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand

“Climate change – it’s an issue of great significance for all of us, and for the planet. It’s for the future generations. We here in New Zealand stand strongly behind the cause.”

General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Thailand

“We join the Paris Agreement because we believe in a shared responsibility to protect this planet for our future generations.”

“We shall overcome this crisis if we join together.”

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

“Let us never forget - climate action is not a burden; indeed, it offers many benefits. It can help us eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women.”

“Today, you are signing a new covenant with the future. This covenant must amount to more than promises."

“I urge world leaders to continue to provide direct political oversight and guidance. And I will look to civil society and the world’s young people to hold Governments to account for the promises they made today.”

“You have made history today. Now let us move swiftly, with courage and determination, to usher in the new era we know can be ours.”

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