EU ministers approve ratification of Paris climate deal
EU ministers have approved ratification of the Paris climate agreement, making it likely that the global greenhouse (GHG) emissions reduction deal will enter into force before the end of this year.
The unanimous decision paves the way for the European Parliament to give its consent for the deal, after which the Council of EU member states can formally adopt it. It will allow the EU to deposit its ratification instrument before each EU member state has completed its national ratification process.
So far, 61 countries, accounting for almost 48pc of global emissions have ratified the deal. The agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, representing at least 55pc of global emissions have ratified it. The EU accounts for around 13pc of global emissions.
The EU plans to deposit its ratification instrument by 5 October, alongside that of all other EU member states that have also ratified the deal by then. The fast-track procedure to obtain final council approval can be completed in less than a day, climate action commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.
This will enable the agreement to enter into force in time for the annual UN climate summit that will take place in, Marrakesh, Morocco, from 7-18 November.
Portugal today became the seventh EU member state to ratify the deal after Germany, France, and Austria, among others.
Some EU member states, such as Greece, Ireland and Romania, made ratification of the deal contingent on the outcome of negotiations on draft EU legislation, notably the effort-sharing decision. The decision will set a decarbonisation obligation for each EU member state in sectors not regulated by the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS), such as transport, buildings, agriculture, waste, land use and forestry.
Poland previously made ratification conditional on continued free EU ETS allowances for its coal-dominated power industry. But it has now said that it was "in the process of ratification" and that the relevant documents had been sent to parliament for approval.
Poland's environment minister, Jan Szyszko, said the country was satisfied with the outcome of today's meeting, because it recognised Poland's specific circumstances. It will also allow Poland to meet its obligations under the Paris accord through voluntary actions that include using forests as carbon sinks, he said.
Some member states were vocal about particular problems related to their energy mix, such as where an economy is based on a single energy source, and their needs were taken into account, Canete said. But today's decision does not change the role of the EU's institutions in delivering legislation, he said. The European Commission will continue to act as an "honest broker" to find best compromise for everyone.
The EU initially sought to ratify in two parallel processes, one at an EU level, and simultaneously with parliamentary approval from each of the 28 member states. But the EU was also keen to ratify the deal as soon as possible to prevent it from entering into force without its participation.
Europe's reputation was at stake as its partners "are coming on board faster than anyone would have imagined", Canete said. The EU decided to depart from the "best practice" of simultaneous ratification, given the unique circumstances, he said.
Nevertheless, the decision still explicitly recognises national parliaments' essential role in the ratification process and does not undermine their sovereign decision-making powers, Canete said. He does not foresee any member state not ratifying the deal because all European countries agreed about the urgency of addressing climate change. Today's agreement shows the EU can act in unity and with solidarity in difficult times, when critical decisions need to be made, Canete said.