EU Parliament voted in favour of ratifying the treaty on Tuesday, paving the way for the treaty’s entry into force this year
In a historic vote held at the plenary session of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, a majority of the members voted in favour of ratifying the Paris Agreement. The vote paved the way for the entry into force of the Agreement - to keep global warming levels less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels - in November this year, with 610 out of 678 parliament members voting in favour of the ratification. Only 38 EU member votes were in the negative, and the rest of the members abstained from voting on Tuesday.
As per the rules of the Agreement, adopted in Paris last year, the cumulative emissions of the ratifying parties must cross the minimum required threshold of 55 per cent of global emissions for it to enter into force. Tuesday’s EU vote will help the treaty to cross this minimum. Accounting for approximately 12 per cent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally, the EU-28 nations will add to the 52 per cent of global emissions that the 62 ratifying parties have covered already.
At a press conference held soon after the vote, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was present during the vote, said that EU nations will formally submit their joint instrument of ratification in a few days, and with this, the Paris Agreement will be ready to take effect in November. Only seven EU nations - France, Germany, Malta, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Portugal - have ratified the Paris Agreement at the national level. However, after the EU submits its instrument of ratification, the member nations will work on following the requisite procedures back at home. Mr. Ki-moon was glad that the ratifying parties now included the most powerful economies, responsible for human-induced climate change, as well as the most vulnerable countries, facing the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
French Environment Minister Segolene Royal said that the EU is looking to formally submit its ratification instruments on Friday, which will ensure that the treaty comes into force by November 7, when the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change takes off in Marrakesh, Morocco. As per the rules, the Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 parties, representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions have ratified it.
In a statement released on Tuesday, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “Today the European Union turned climate ambition into climate action. The Paris Agreement is the first of its kind and it would not have been possible were it not for the European Union. Today we continued to show leadership and prove that, together, the European Union can deliver.”
In the course of the parliamentary debate on Tuesday, some EU members, who were against the ratification, raised concerns about citizens having to pay more for cars, heating, and electricity, due to possible outcomes of the climate agreement entering into force. However, the overwhelming majority of members, who voted in favour, sought to put such fears to rest by pointing out that instead of reducing emissions, options for storing carbon could be explored, and that Europe’s economy will remain competitive despite the proposed emission cuts.
Other EU members of the parliament sought to point out that since the provisions of the Paris Agreement are now set to become legally binding, it must be ensured that the US, one of the largest countries in terms of GHG emissions, is not allowed to pursue its own interest, but play its legitimate part in cutting emissions.
Address refugee crisis
Coming as the vote does shortly after the EU held a referendum on the refugee crisis, which saw member nations raising their voices against migration, Ban Ki-moon pointed out that addressing climate change will also help the EU address the refugee crisis, as harsh climatic conditions were also one of the triggers for migration, besides political instability and violence.
“People do not find their places sustainable for living due to climate change. Addressing this will definitely reduce the possibilities of people fleeing or leaving their country for better opportunities,” he said.