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Obama hails climate change deal as potential turning point

President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, where he spoke, welcoming the news that the Paris agreement on climate change will take effect in a month as a historic achievement. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
October 05, 2016 - 1:51 PM

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama welcomed the news Wednesday that the Paris agreement on climate change will take effect in a month, saying "this gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we've got."

The Paris agreement commits rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden, said the agreement alone won't solve the climate crisis, but it will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change.

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

While the targets in the agreement are not legally binding, the treaty does require countries to report on emissions and their progress on reaching the goals in the national climate plans they submitted to the U.N. The countries are also required to maintain those plans, update them every five years and to pursue measures to implement their stated goals.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the agreement will be "disastrous" for the American economy and throw away gains the U.S. has made in energy development.

"The abundant, low-cost energy that we have unlocked will now be shut in the ground, eliminating the economic growth and jobs that come with development," Ryan said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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