Paris Agreement poised to enter into full force as EU ratifies

The historic Paris Agreement will enter into force before the COP22 Marrakech event next month after the European Parliament approved its fast-track ratification today (4 October).

The Parliament gave its consent to the deal following a vote at midday, in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and European President Jean-Claude Juncker. The approval now paves the way for the European Council of Ministers to formally adopt the deal via an urgent written procedure tomorrow.

President Juncker said: “Today the EU turned climate ambition into climate action. The Paris Agreement is the first of its kind and it would not have been possible were it not for the EU. Today we continued to show leadership and prove that, together, the EU can deliver.”

‘Ahead of the curve’

The deal “emphasises with serious concern” the need to hold the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2C” above pre-industrial levels, and “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C”.

The agreement can only enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, representing at least 55% of global emissions have ratified. Currently, 62 countries, accounting for almost 52% of global emissions have ratified the deal. Approval from the European Union (EU) – representing 12% of global emissions – will take the agreement over the necessary threshold for it to enter into force.

The EU Member States will simultaneously ratify the agreement individually, in accordance with their national parliamentary process. So far, seven EU countries representing 5% of global emissions have completed their domestic processes, including France, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Portugal and Malta.

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Our collective task is to turn our commitments into action on the ground. And here Europe is ahead of the curve. We have the policies and tools to meet our targets, steer the global clean energy transition and modernise our economy. The world is moving and Europe is in a driver’s seat, confident and proud of leading the work to tackle climate change”.

Low-carbon transition

The speed at which the Paris Agreement is being approved has been described as ‘truly remarkable’ by climate change commentators. The US and China both officially ratified the Paris Agreement last month, marking a major breakthrough in the battle against global warming. 

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. Welcoming today’s news, former Environment Minister Richard Benyon said the agreement will enhance opportunities for British industry.

“Britain now has a real chance to cement the opportunities presented by the low-carbon transition into the heart of a new industrial strategy, as Greg Clark highlighted in his Conference speech yesterday,” Benyon said.

“The reality is that Britain is engaged on a transition to clean energy – today’s news that solar power generated more electricity that coal-fired power stations over the last six months is the latest indication that new, clean technologies are supplanting the dirty ones of the last century – and we’re excellently placed to shine as this new industrial revolution gathers pace.”

George Ogleby

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