The European Parliament on Tuesday ratified the landmark climate agreement finalized last year in Paris. The ratification takes the deal, which seeks to prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, past a key threshold needed for it to come into effect.
“Today the European Union turned climate ambition into climate action,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said during the plenary session of the EU Parliament, which was held in the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “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.”
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) October 4, 2016
The long-term goal of the climate agreement, drafted during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December last year, is to keep the rise in average global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to keep it within 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). However, given that global temperatures have already risen by almost 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), many now believe that the target is unlikely to be met.
In order to meet the aspirational goal, developed nations have pledged an absolute reduction in their emissions, while developing countries such as China and India have set deadlines to peak greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S., for instance, has pledged to slash its emissions by up to 28 percent of its 2005 levels by 2025, while China has promised to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
The agreement, backed by nearly 200 nations, needed to be ratified by at least 55 parties accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions for it to come into effect. Even before the EU Parliament’s decision, 62 countries, accounting for 52 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, had ratified the agreement. Now, with the EU’s seal of approval, both the criteria have been met, paving the way for the deal to come into force ahead of the next round of U.N.-backed climate talks starting Nov. 7 in Morocco.
The EU accounts for 12 percent of the global emissions, while the U.S. and China — two of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases who ratified the pact last month — together account for over 40 percent. As part of the agreement, the EU has pledged a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels.
“The European parliament has heard the voice of its people,” Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the European Commission, in charge of Energy Union, said. “The European Union is already implementing its own commitments to the Paris Agreement but today’s swift ratification triggers its implementation in the rest of the world.”