The Paris Climate Agreement could pass the necessary threshold to go into force Wednesday when the European Union is expected to submit its ratification papers to the United Nations. If the deal goes through, it will mean that at least 55 countries totaling 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the measures.
For President Barack Obama, that support would be an important milestone as his presidency winds down. Obama, who has sought to make climate change a major part of his legacy, will at least be able to leave office with the Paris climate agreement in motion.
The news comes after heavy skepticism that the deal would be put on hold.
“They said Europe is too complicated to agree quickly,” Arias Cañete, the E.U. commissioner for climate action and energy, said in a statement on Friday after the 28 members of the union announced they had granted informal approval to ratify the agreement.
“They said we had too many hoops to jump through,” Cañete said. “They said we were all talk.”
Combating climate change is widely considered one of the most important issues facing the world today. The consequences of global warming range from aggravated health problems to infrastructure damage as communities on coastlines experience more and more flooding and heavy rain events. The Paris Agreement looks to spur investment in sustainable and low carbon technologies, cut greenhouse gas emissions globally and help countries adapt to the effects of climate change.
As of Monday, 62 out of 197 countries had ratified the Paris Agreement, accounting for 51.89 percent of the Earth’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement needs 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions to be ratified.
The E.U. decision won’t mean that all of the countries in the bloc will be able to be counted for in the threshold, however, since just seven countries have so far completed their planning on that front. But, adding up those seven yields an additional 5 percent of emissions cuts so the deal will be ratified.