Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

EU Leaders Pledge Quick Ratification of Paris Climate Accord

Updated on
  • France says nations ready to approve deal as soon as possible
  • Fast-track sign-off could occur by Oct. 7, EU’s Delbeke says

European Union leaders gave a political nod to the fast ratification of the global climate accord, a step that could enable the pact to come into force less than a year after it was agreed to by more than 190 nations in Paris.

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“Not only will the European Parliament vote in October; now all members of the European Union stand ready to ratify the accord as soon as possible,” French President Francois Hollande said Friday after an informal summit of 27 leaders from the bloc in Bratislava. The U.K. didn’t participate in the summit, which was called to debate the future of the region after Brexit.

The most ambitious scenario sketched by the Slovak presidency of the EU assumes the approval procedure at the union level can be finished by Oct. 7, said Jos Delbeke, director general for climate at the European Commission, the bloc’s executive. The fast-track route would need formal backing by the bloc’s 28 national environment ministers, with Slovakia calling an extraordinary gathering for Sept. 30. The EU Parliament’s next plenary session is scheduled for Oct. 3-6 in Strasbourg, France.

The Paris deal, the most sweeping agreement to combat global warming to date, needs to be ratified by at least 55 parties accounting for 55 percent of global emissions to take effect. The EU, which accounts for around 12 percent and wants to lead the fight against climate change, is under increasing pressure to formally join the deal after U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping ratified it on Sept. 3 at a Group of 20 summit. Those two countries are responsible for around 38 percent of global emissions.

“The EU will probably trigger the entry of the agreement into force” should the ratification procedure be finished within the next three weeks, Delbeke said.

The climate deal will be enacted 30 days after the ratification thresholds have been reached. If they’re triggered by Oct. 7, the first meeting of the parties to the agreement, known in the climate jargon as CMA, could take place during the nearest annual United Nations climate conference, scheduled to start in Morocco on Nov. 7.

Poland, which signaled last week it will ratify the Paris deal only after it makes sure its interests in relation to the European climate policy are secured, said on Friday it was ready to support ratification at the EU level if it wins unanimous support from the bloc’s environment ministers.

“At the same time, we are in a dialog with the European Commission and with member states on the EU climate policy,” Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski said in a phone interview from Bratislava during the summit.