EU fast-tracks approval to ensure Paris climate deal comes into force
European Union states agreed on Friday (September 30) on a fast-track, joint ratification of the Paris accord to combat climate change, pushing the landmark global pact to the brink of entering into force.
The 2015 Paris deal will guide a radical shift of the world economy away from fossil fuels. Friday’s agreement by environment ministers from all EU 28 member states marks a rare political breakthrough for the bloc at a time of uncertainty over Britain’s departure and discord over the migration crisis.
“Our reputation was on the line – because remember that they said that Europe is too complicated to agree quickly. They said we had too many obstacles, they said we were all talk, and they even started to question whether our heart was really in it. Today clearly shows that we mean business. Today’s agreement shows unity and solidarity as member states take a European approach just as we did in Paris,” said the EU commissioner for climate action, Miguel Arias Canete.
The decision by the EU, which accounts for about 12 percent of global emissions, will have to be approved by the European Parliament next week, which in turn has to be approved by ministers.
Canete said there was acceptance across various governments over the Paris agreement.
“I don’t anticipate at the moment, even with the difficult political situations in the European Union, any difficulties,” Canete said.
To take effect, the Paris Agreement needs formal ratification by 55 countries that account for 55 percent of global emissions. Once it reaches that threshold, it will enter into force after 30 days.
So far, 61 nations representing 47.8 percent of emissions have ratified, led by China and the United States. India, with 4 percent, is set to ratify on Sunday and the EU ratification would push it over the line.
The EU shortcut, dubbed “institutional creativity” by France’s minister, ultimately hangs on trust that each of the 28 will follow through with their own ratifications. If they do not, those who have gone ahead could be stuck with fulfilling the promised emissions cuts of the bloc as a whole.
“It was necessary to reassure one another, all the while remaining extremely demanding and firm on the objectives, that the European Union had fixed among the first countries, to reduce by 40 percent the gas emissions by 2030,” said French environment minister Segolene Royal, who called the EU joint ratification a “historic result”.
December’s Paris accord, by almost 200 nations, aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times.
Paris sets out a goal of phasing out greenhouse gas emissions sometime between 2050 and 2100 as part of efforts to limit heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.
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