No clear timescale has been set for this ratification, but EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, is confident that this latest proposal will accelerate action from the 28 Member States, to avoid the bloc being left behind on the international push to mitigate global warming.

“After Paris, the EU is doing its homework,” Cañete said. “We are determined to maintain the momentum and spirit of Paris and ensure the early ratification – and the swift implementation – of this historic agreement.

“Today’s proposal demonstrates our continued commitment to lead the global clean energy transition and build a modern, sustainable and more climate-friendly economy. I am confident that the European Parliament, Council and Member States will complete the respective ratification procedures promptly.”

‘Ambitious and forward-looking’

In today’s statement, the Commission also underlined its intentions to propose in the coming months the Member State targets to reduce emissions in those sectors not covered by the Emissions Trading System, such as transport, agriculture and buildings. And it will propose how to integrate land use into the 2030 framework and a communication on low-carbon mobility.

“The Commission’s proposals this summer, together with the revision of the Emissions Trading System, will deliver the remainder of the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and are an integral part of Energy Union’s ambitious and forward-looking climate policy,” the statement reads.

The Paris Agreement, adopted on 12 December 2015, is the world’s first universal, legally-binding deal to tackle climate change; setting out a long-term emissions reduction goal of keeping the global temperature increase “well below 2C”, while pursuing efforts to limit the rise to 1.5C. In April of this year, political leaders from 170 countries – including China, the US and the UK – came together at the UN headquarters in New York to officially sign the Paris Agreement on Earth Day.

But this does not mean the deal is in effect – joining the Paris Agreement is a two-step process: countries must first sign the Agreement, and then indicate their consent to join and be legally bound by it. The ratification signatures of at least 55 countries – representing more than 55% of global carbon emissions – are required for the deal to formally apply from 2020. The EU represents around 10% of global emissions.

Flip flops

Commenting on today’s EU announcement, campaign group WWF has welcomed the proposals for swift action, but has called for increased climate ambition at an EU level, to live up to the commitments made in Paris.

“Speed is essential in the fight against climate change, so early ratification of the Paris Agreement is crucial,” said the head of climate and energy at WWF’s European policy office.

“Yet ratification without increasing EU policy ambition to reflect the Agreement’s content is like trying to climb a mountain in flip flops. It puts Europe at risk of suffering even more from the impacts of climate change in future.”

French President Francois Hollande is reportedly expected to formally ratify the Agreement for France next week, making it the first industrialised nation to enshrine the accord into law.

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie