EU Agrees to Paris Climate Deal

The EU accounts for 12% of global emissions.The EU accounts for 12% of global emissions.

The European Union’s environment ministers on Friday approved the ratification of the landmark Paris climate change pact, paving the way for the agreement to take effect in November.

“It’s really a historic result,” French Environment Minister Segolene Royal told reporters after the ministers agreed unanimously to ratify the deal at talks in Brussels, tweeting “Victory!” in delight.

“It was not a sure thing,” she added, given the different energy requirements and concerns among the EU’s 28 member nations, AP reported. After years of negotiations, governments agreed in Paris last December to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists say are warming the planet.


More than 170 world leaders have signed the deal, but it will not take effect until 55 countries, accounting for at least 55% of global emissions, have ratified or accepted it through their domestic procedures. Sixty-one parties have already ratified it but they only account for 48% of emissions.

The EU’s ratification, which is expected to take about a month to complete, would take the Paris Agreement past the 55% threshold. The European Parliament is expected to approve it next week.

The EU prides itself on being a leader in the fight against global warming and it came under heavy criticism after the US and China beat the bloc to enact the accord.

The EU, which accounts for 12% of global emissions, originally planned to wait for its member states to approve the deal domestically, but given the slow pace of progress it is moving on their behalf. It is now almost certain the deal can enter into force at the next UN climate conference, which starts November 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco. The environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the EU’s move.

“While the formal ratification by all arms of the EU will take one or two weeks, it makes it almost certain that the historic agreement will enter into force within a year of its adoption in December 2015,” the group said.

 Points to Be Clarified

Royal admitted that "a certain number of points" have to be clarified, notably Poland's demand to know how the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be shared and concerns that the UK's decision to leave the EU will affect quotas.

Some countries are also concerned that the collective ratification has set a precedent that could be invoked in the case of other international treaties, RFI reported. With India set to ratify the deal on October 2 and Canada planning to do so soon, the deal should come into effect by the Marrakesh conference.

Ratification will also allow the EU to play a full part in that meeting's decisions.

The Paris climate change agreement commits countries to keep global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.


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