French President Francois Hollande, right, French Foreign Minister and president of the COP21 Laurent Fabius, second, right, United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres and United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon hold their hands up after the final conference at the COP21, the United Nations conference on climate change, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Saturday, Dec.12, 2015. Governments have adopted a global agreement that for the first time asks all countries to reduce or rein in their greenhouse gas emissions. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
PHOTO: Francois Mori/AP
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Story highlights

Hillary Clinton said the next decade is "critical" for implementing the agreement and tackling climate change

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said the agreement was a step forward, but not enough to tackle climate change

(CNN) —  

Hillary Clinton quickly lauded Saturday’s agreement of a global climate change pact in Paris, calling it an important step in protecting the planet, though her foremost challenger, Bernie Sanders, said he was unimpressed by the deal.

The deal creates a goal of halting average warming at no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial temperatures, and striving for a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, hailed the agreement in a statement, saying, “I applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our negotiating team for helping deliver a new, ambitious international climate agreement in Paris.”

She adds that the next decade is “critical” for implementing the agreement and tackling climate change.

“We cannot afford to be slowed by the climate skeptics or deterred by the defeatists who doubt America’s ability to meet this challenge,” she said.

Sanders, however, said that while the agreement was a step forward, it not enough to tackle climate change.

“The planet is in crisis. We need bold action in the very near future and this does not provide that,” he said in a statement.

“In the United States, we have a Republican Party which is much more interested in contributions from the fossil fuel industry than they care about the future of the planet. That is true all over the globe,” Sanders added. “We’ve got to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and fight for national and international legislation that transforms our energy system away from fossil fuel as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley tweeted, “Congrats #COP21 on the #ParisAgreement. The pact sets ambitious goals to fight climate change. As POTUS, I will hold the world to them.”

He followed up his tweet with another, writing, “Now the U.S. needs to do what it does best—lead with action. We need full transition to clean energy. #100by50 #COP21”

CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.