23rd Oct 2016

EU rushing to ratify climate agreement

  • The EU needs to sign up to the Paris climate agreement before 7 October (Photo: Mikko Itälahti)

The EU, a leading force in pushing for a climate agreement in Paris last year, is now rushing to sign the deal and be around the table when it starts being implemented.

Environment ministers will meet on 30 September to speed up the EU's ratification process in order to be ready by 7 October, 30 days before the next UN conference on climate change, the COP 22, in November in Marrakech.

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About 60 countries, representing 47.7 percent of global greenhouse emissions, have signed the agreement so far.

Fifty five countries, representing 55 percent of emissions, are necessary to have ratified it for the agreement to enter into force. This could happen before the end of the year.

Not being in the leading pack would be "reputation damage" for the EU, a source said.

Ministers will try to agree on an accelerated process, that would lead to a joint statement by the European Commission and the EU Council, representing member states.

The text would then be endorsed by the European Parliament at its next plenary session early October.

The fast-track procedure would allow the EU to sign up to the Paris agreement as a bloc, without waiting for ratification by all 28 member states.

So far only France, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have ratified the agreement. Slovakia, which will chair the ministers meeting next week, sped up its national process to set an example.

In the joint statement, which still has to be drafted, the other countries would promise to do so as soon as possible.

At the Bratislava summit last week, EU leaders agreed to the accelerated process that bypasses member states procedures, but some member states want a guarantee that it would not set a precedent.

Ten months after the Paris COP 21, the EU finds itself lagging behind because the ratification process at 28 takes a long time and also because the double threshold of signatories and emissions could be reached earlier than expected.

"After the Paris summit, nobody expected that the process would be sped up in so many countries," a diplomat said.

"A few months ago, the COP 22 was supposed to be to prepare the implementation, not to have the first CMA," referring the meeting of countries that have signed.

"The situation has dramatically changed" with ratification by the US, and more surprisingly by China, earlier this month. Together the two countries amount to around 40 percent of global emissions, bringing closer the entry into force of the deal.

Now, the diplomat said, the EU "needs to be a credible partner" after it pushed for an agreement at the Paris conference.

Not being at the CMA table "would be a failure of the EU," he said.


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