EU fast-tracks deal to ratify Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is close to entering into force, after European Union (EU) Ministers approved to fast-track the ratification process at an Environment Council extraordinary meeting in Brussels today (30 September).

Environment Ministers of the bloc’s 28 Member States reached an agreement earlier this afternoon, with the approval set to be forwarded to the European Parliament for its formal consent next week.

The EU deal is now likely to enter force before the start of COPP22 climate negotiations in Marrakech in November. Currently, 61 countries accounting for almost 48% of global emissions have ratified the deal, with India, a country representing 4.1% of emissions, expected to ratify on Sunday (October 2).

European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Today’s decision shows that the European Union delivers on promises made. It demonstrates that the Member States can find common ground when it is clear that acting together, as part of the European Union, their impact is bigger than the mere sum of its parts.

“I am happy to see that today the Member States decided to make history together and bring closer the entry into force of the first ever universally binding climate change agreement. We must and we can hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies. This is not a dream. This is a reality and it is within our reach. Today we are closer to it.”

Breakneck speed

The Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, representing at least 55% of global emissions have ratified. The threshold must be reached before October 7 for the deal to enter force before the Marrakech event.

Commenting on the news today, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) director Richard Black said that the speed at which the deal is being approved is ‘truly remarkable’.

“Be in no doubt: the speed at which the Paris Agreement is set to enter into force is truly remarkable. It’s striking not only in the context of global climate talks, which for so many years moved at glacial pace – it’s very unusual for Governments to bring any major treaty into force in less than a year,” he said.

“It’s tempting to say that this breakneck speed is the result of signals from the natural world, such as having 16 straight months of record-breaking temperatures and the final refutation of the ‘global warming pause’ narrative. But another equally important factor is in many nations, led by China, a clean energy revolution is taking off driven by economics as well as climate concerns – which makes cutting emissions much easier.”

UK pressure

The US and China both officially ratified the Paris Agreement earlier this month, marking a major breakthrough in the battle against global warming.

The pressure is now building on the UK to follow suit. Just over a week ago, UK Prime Minister Theresa May vowed that the UK will have officially ratified the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016, although it is believed the ratification process could be finalised within a matter of weeks.

With cross-party calls to ratify the Paris Agreement “as soon as possible” surfacing, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) secretary of state Greg Clark recently revealed that the ratification process is in fact underway.

George Ogleby

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