BRUSSELS—A global agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is all but certain to enter into force in November, after European Union environment ministers agreed on Friday to speed up the bloc’s ratification of the agreement.
The Paris climate deal, which was sealed in December in the French capital, is one of the legacy projects for President Barack Obama. His administration—along with China—has worked hard in recent months to ensure that the agreement takes effect at the next climate summit in Marrakesh. Once that happens, countries that have joined are prevented from pulling out for four years, which would effectively stop the next American president from exiting the agreement.
EU environment ministers on Friday gave the go-ahead for the bloc to ratify the climate deal—even though only seven of its 28 member states have done so nationally.
“Our reputation was one the line,” said the EU’s climate and energy commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, explaining the unusual step.
So far, 61 countries—including the world’s two biggest emitters, China and the U.S.–representing some 48% of global emissions, have formally adopted the deal. To enter into force, at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of emissions have to ratify.
The EU represents some 12% of global emissions, although it isn’t yet clear whether those will count in full until all of its 28 member states have finished their national ratification procedures. The member states that have ratified—Germany, France, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Portugal and Malta—make up about 4.6% of emissions.
India, which is responsible for 4.1% of emissions, has also announced it will formally adopt the Paris agreement on Oct. 2.
“This means that (the) EU and its member states will add their weight to trigger the entry into force of the Paris Agreement,” said Laszlo Solymos, Slovakia’s environment minister, who led Friday’s talks.
The U.S. push for an early entry into force created problems for the EU, which originally hadn’t planned to ratify the deal this year. Normally, the EU as a whole cannot ratify an international agreement such as the climate deal until national parliaments have had their say.
The unanimous decision to go ahead nevertheless came despite initial resistance from Poland and Italy, which are unhappy with a separate proposal on how much each EU member state has to reduce its emissions.
There were also some doubts over the position of the U.K., which is in the process of negotiating its exit from the EU and has opposed handing additional powers to the bloc’s institutions.
Under the Paris climate deal, participating countries commit to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to keep the rise in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. In contrast to its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris agreement expects all countries—including developing states and emerging markets, such as China and India—to limit their emissions.
The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and later withdrew from the agreement.
This article appeared on the Wall Street Journal website at http://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-set-to-ratify-paris-climate-agreement-1475240342]]>
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