The prime minister has for the first time acknowledged Britain’s commitment to the Paris climate deal – despite pledging to leave the EU.
Speaking at the United Nations in New York she declared that the UK was determined to play its part in the international effort against climate change.
She announced that “the UK will start its domestic procedures to enable ratification of the Paris agreement and complete these before the end of the year.”
The UK is expected to take on emissions reductions as part of the EU-wide “burden-sharing” agreement.
Currently, only 29 of the 197 signatory countries have ratified the treaty that was agreed in December 2015.
The agreement committed the world to trying to limit global warming to as close as 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels as possible.
A subsequent analysis however has found that individual pledges to reduce emissions could allow a rise of up to 3.1°C.
So far this year every month has broken temperature records and the first half of 2016 was found to be around 1.3°C warmer than the pre-industrial era of the late 19th century.
Greg Clark, Business and Energy Secretary, said that ratifying the agreement underlined the UK’s determination to “tackle climate change to create a safer and more prosperous future for all.”
He continued, saying that, “The UK played a major role when the world came together last year and we will continue to play our part in the transition to a low carbon economy as we continue to provide secure, affordable and clean energy at home.”
Environmental organisers, campaigners and business groups have welcomed the news.
Greenpeace UK executive director, John Sauven, hailed the words as “a welcome moment of clarity amidst the all-pervading Brexit uncertainty.”
He noted however that some of the largest economies in the world have already ratified the Paris Agreement and wondered why the UK was taking so long with its own ratification.
Only last week Ukraine ratified the deal, taking the total level of ratified states to 40 per cent.
It is hoped that the 55 per cent mark can be achieved by the time that President Obama leaves the White House in January though it is expected that at least 20 more countries shall announce ratification at the UN headquarters later today.