The United States and China will sign the Paris climate agreement on April 22, sparking hopes that the accord will enter into force this year.

The two biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world confirmed the move on March 31 in a joint president statement, where they all urged other nations to sign the deal next month “with a view of bringing the Paris Agreement into force as early as possible” and fully implementing it.

After years of negotiations, representatives of almost 200 nations reached the landmark agreement last Dec. 12 to lower greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. Before taking effect, however, the deal needs to be ratified by at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions.

The presidents of the two superpowers reiterated their commitments made in September last year during President Xi Jianping’s state visit to Washington.

“[They will] use public resources to finance and encourage the transition toward low carbon technologies as a priority,” read part of the joint statement, which highlighted China’s strengthening, for instance, of its green and low-carbon policies and control of high-carbon, high-pollution public investments.

According to both countries, they would jointly work on a global accord to curb emissions in aviation at the International Civil Aviation Organization, as well as pact to curb potent greenhouse gas HFCs this year.

Todd Stern, climate envoy to the United States who helped seal the Paris deal, said it is important to hit the threshold as soon as possible to help nations most vulnerable to climate change effects. The climate negotiator has stepped down from his role and will be replaced by Jonathan Pershing, his former deputy, by April 1.

Secretary of State John Kerry is poised to sign the agreement on behalf of the United States.

But there are a number of roadblocks along the way. The Supreme Court back in February put on hold President Barack Obama’s emissions limits for power plants, which are depended on to meet the country’s commitment under the landmark deal.

The White House, however, remains optimistic that the limits will be upheld given plenty of time. According to presidential adviser Brian Deese in an AP report, tax credits for wind and solar will close the gap until the power plant emissions limit is enforced.

The United Nations has invited nations to sign the Paris deal at a ceremony to be held on April 22, which is the first day they can do so.

Photo: Presidencia de la República Mexicana | Flickr

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