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World Leaders Hail Paris Climate Deal

Leaders of many countries around the world, including U.S. President Barack Obama, hailed the global climate agreement announced Dec. 12 in Paris by negotiators for 195 countries. The White House posted a statement calling it "the most ambitious climate change agreement in history" and saying the agreement "establishes a long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review."

Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister and president of the climate change conference, said "the Paris accord is accepted" to announce it after two weeks of negotiations. Afterward, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said government representatives made history. "The Paris Agreement is a monumental triumph for people and our planet," Ban tweeted. "It sets the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace, and ensuring a life of dignity and opportunity for all."

Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, also cheered the pact. "The Paris Agreement is probably the most important international agreement in history. Nations of the world have underlined that climate change is a threat to the security and prosperity of all societies, and can only be addressed through unity of purpose. A sustainable future benefits all of humanity," he said. "This agreement is a testament to the ability of our societies to set aside differences and confront collective challenges for the global good. Importantly, the agreement has provisions to protect the most vulnerable. Fairness and equity are at the heart of this accord. Governments have sent a signal to the private sector that the momentum toward sustainability cannot be stopped. This is what the world needed to see. Above all, we have given future generations hope instead of doom and gloom.

"Now that negotiations have concluded, our work continues," Steiner added. "We must focus on implementing the solutions that drive an inclusive green economy, including renewable energy, green finance initiatives, and sustainability in transport, construction and other sectors."

The White House statement said the agreement lays the foundation for countries to work together to keep global temperature rise 2 degrees Celsius "and sets an ambitious vision to go even farther than that. This Agreement sends a strong signal to the private sector that the global economy is moving towards clean energy, and that through innovation and ingenuity, we can achieve our climate objectives while creating new jobs, raising standards of living and lifting millions out of poverty."

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