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  • Theresa May enters the General Assembly Hall to speak during the 71st United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. Sept. 20, 2016.

    Theresa May enters the General Assembly Hall to speak during the 71st United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. Sept. 20, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

So far 31 countries, representing 47.7 percent of global emissions, have formally signed up for the climate change deal.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that she will begin working toward ratifying the Paris Climate Change agreement, COP21 by the end of the year, and also urged other world leaders to take similar steps to help tackle the global environmental threat.

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In her first speech at the U.N. General Assembly, May spoke publicly about the environment for one of the few times since succeeding David Cameron in July, saying that the U.K. was ready to “play our part in the international effort against climate change.”

The U.K. helped to negotiate the Paris accords late last year when it was a part of the EU, although the EU as a whole is yet to ratify the agreement. “When the British people voted to leave the EU, they did not vote to turn inwards or walk away from any of our partners in the world,” May said.

Outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he was “confident that, by the time I leave office, the Paris Agreement will have entered into force,” adding that there was a “diverse group” of world leaders that were committed to ratifying and carrying out the agreement. “This will be a major achievement for multilateralism,” he said.

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China and the U.S., the world’s top two polluters earlier this month signaled their intent to ratify the climate agreement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also said he was confident that more countries would follow suit.

France ratified the agreement in June with President Francois Hollande saying that countries need to act fast to ratify the deal.

On Wednesday, 31 countries, accounting for 47.7 percent of global emissions, formally signed up for the climate change deal. Some of the world's biggest polluters including Brazil, the EU, Canada, Australia, Germany, Mexico and Argentina said they also intended to ratify the agreement.

The COP21 agreement aims to limit the global temperature rise to at least 1.5 degrees Celsius

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