The resolute decision by the presidents of the United States and China to lead the global effort toward attenuating global warming caused by climate change is one of the decisive and successful measures of the Paris Agreement: to get the planet’s most polluting nations involved.

Last Saturday, Barack Obama and Xi Jinping launched a “new era” in the worrisome and imperative environmental struggle that involves all governments worldwide. The shaking of hands by the leaders of the most important economies in the word should be celebrated with optimism, even if it marks the beginning of addressing perhaps the most important challenge that humanity has faced, a challenge that involves the human species’ own survival.

Xi Jinping and Obama have appealed to the power of diplomacy, ratifying the Paris climate agreement in the Chinese city of Hangzhou a day before the beginning of the G-20 Summit, the ideal platform for the rest of the developed and emerging nations that formed the decision-making group to express similar views. It is important to remember that in order for the agreement to materialize, a minimum of 55 countries totaling 55 percent of total global emissions is needed.

The ratification is important for that reason. Remember that China and the USA contribute to around 38 percent of the total amount of adverse emissions globally. So the two nations’ agreement is one more step toward the goal of making the ratification binding at the G-20 Summit. President Mauricio Macri is at the summit, and is a staunch defender of the environment and renewable energy policies. Today, coincidentally, Argentina opened the bidding for its program to generate 1000 MW using alternative energy sources and with grand expectations, given the number of interested investors.

In this context, Pope Francis provided the best premonitory reflection on the issue. Last Thursday, during the World Day of Prayer for Creation, the Pope said that governments worldwide have the duty to respect the agreements they have accepted, while private businesses must be responsible for their contribution. Furthermore, he noted that the citizens worldwide are responsible for demanding that these actions occur and that they look toward ever more ambitious ecological goals.

Bergoglio showed that the ecological debt between the global north and south must be resolved by having richer countries supply financial resources and technical assistance to poorer countries to help the latter handle the changes needed for sustainable habitats.