European Union approves Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Paris Agreement on Climate Change European Union approves Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The last hurdle has been taken – the Paris Agreement on Climate Change can now enter into force. The European Parliament has voted by an overwhelming majority to approve the agreement.

As a final and purely formal step, EU member states had earlier also given their consent. The instrument of ratification can now be deposited at the United Nations in New York.

The European Parliament has approved the agreement, meaning that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change can enter into force at the beginning of November at the start of the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh. "We can all be very proud of this achievement," declared Slovakia’s Environment Minister Laszlo Solymos on behalf of the Slovakian EU Presidency. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked the EU for its role as trailblazer. The agreement can now come into force in record time, he said, and usher in the transition to a new global economy.

EU to have voting rights

The EU will deposit its ratification instrument at the United Nations (UN) in New York, thus gaining voting rights at the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh. The Paris Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, representing at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified. All parties depositing their instruments of ratification at the UN by 7 October will have voting rights as of 7 November in Marrakesh.

India joined the agreement on 2 October, bringing the number of countries which have ratified to 63, representing a good 52 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. The EU’s ratification adds another 12 per cent to this figure, meaning that the agreement can now enter into force.

On behalf of the entire EU, the Council of Ministers announced that the European Union had now joined the agreement following the vote of the European Parliament. It was not required to wait for all national parliaments to give their approval.

As a separate party to the agreement, the EU can only join the Paris Agreement as a whole. For this, the parliaments in member states would generally firstly have had to give their consent. By mid September France, Malta, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia had done so. The procedure was then split and thus accelerated. The EU has now joined the agreement with a resolution adopted by the EU Environment Council and the vote of the European Parliament – before all national parliaments approve the agreement.

German Bundestag and Bundesrat have already given their approval

The national parliaments of all EU member states do, however, have to approve the agreement. In an interview Barbara Hendricks, the German Federal Environment Minister, explained that there will be no concessions for individual countries regarding cuts in CO2 emissions. She rejected any sort of discount, on pollutant reduction, for instance.

The German Bundestag and Bundesrat have already passed the government bill to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Once the act of parliament has been signed by the Federal President and published in the Federal Gazette, it can come into force. This is expected to happen by early October.

For the first time ever the Paris Agreement provides a binding international framework for a global energy shift. The international community intends to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius. The aim is indeed to keep the rise in temperature under 1.5 degrees Celsius in comparison to the pre-industrial era. In the second half of the century the goal is to become greenhouse gas-neutral. Rich industrialised countries must also produce a concrete road map, laying out how they will provide financial support to the regions worst hit by climate change.