European Union ministers have today agreed to fastrack ratification of the the climate change agreement made in Paris last year, with the European Parliament expected to approve the decision this week.
The decision was reached at an extraordinary meeting of the Environment Council in Brussels and brings the bloc one step closer to officially agreeing to the Paris Agreement and play its part in limiting global warming to 2 degrees.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “I am happy to see that today the member states decided to make history together and bring closer the entry into force of the first ever universally binding climate change agreement.
“We must and we can hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies. This is not a dream. This is a reality and it is within our reach. Today we are closer to it.”
So far 61 of the also 200 countries to agree to limit climate change at COP21 have ratified the deal, accounting for almost 48% of global emissions. Both the US and China – two of the largest carbon emitters in the world – recently agreed to ratify the deal, while Theresa May confirmed during her maiden speech to the United Nations that the UK would make preparations to ratify the agreement by the end of the year.
The UK had originally negotiated as part of the EU its terms of decarbonisation however since the Brexit vote in June, it remains unclear what commitments its will be held to once it leaves the union. Meanwhile, the remaining states will seek to complete national ratification processes following the deposit of the European Parliament’s ratification instrument next week. Once Parliament has consented, the Council can formally adopt the Decision.
Miguel Arias Cañete, EU commissioner for climate action and energy, said: “Today’s decision shows what Europe is all about: unity and solidarity as Member States take a European approach, just as we did in Paris. We are reaching a critical period for decisive climate action. And when the going gets tough, Europe gets going.”
The European Union already has several stringent targets in place already to limit emissions, including a reduction commitment of 40% by 2030. Much of its efforts are based on energy efficiency, which it is facing pressure to increase to above the current target of 30% reduction in energy use.