By Paul Purcell
New Zealand has put pen to paper on the historic Paris Agreement.
Leaders from 175 countries, including New Zealand, signed the climate change accords in New York this morning, potentially paving the way for the agreement to come into force years ahead of schedule.
The Paris Agreement covers more than 90 percent of the world's emissions with 188 countries taking part in the negotiations held in France in December last year.
"We are in a race against time," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering.
"The era of consumption without consequences is over."
Many now expect the climate agreement to enter into force long before the original deadline of 2020.
Some say it could happen this year.
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says while New Zealand's 2030 target of reducing emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels was ambitious, she is confident of success.
"The next step is for more of the operational details to be fleshed out so New Zealand can consider timing and the best way to ratify the agreement," Ms Bennett said.
After signing, countries must approve the Paris Agreement through their domestic procedures.
The agreement will enter into force when joined by at least 55 countries, which together represent at least 55 percent of global emissions.
China, the world's top carbon emitter, announced it will "finalise domestic procedures" to ratify the Paris Agreement before the G-20 summit in September while the United States said it also intends to join the agreement this year.
China and the United States together account for 38 percent of global emissions.
The United Nations says 15 states, several of them small island states under threat from rising seas, have ratified the deal.