It’s a Deal! EU Fast-Tracks Paris Agreement Ratification

French climate change minister Ségolène Royal and her Slovakian colleague László Sólymos at the extraordinary the meeting. Photo: EU Council
French climate change minister Ségolène Royal and her Slovakian colleague László Sólymos at the extraordinary the meeting. Photo: EU Council

The EU’s 28 climate ministers made history today by approving the ratification of the Paris Agreement and forwarding it to the European Parliament for approval.

“Europe has seized the moment in response to climate urgency,” French climate change minister Ségolène Royal tweeted. The EU has “lived up to its responsibilities and is making history,” she said.

By approving the ratification at an extraordinary meeting (30 September), ministers have proceeded to fast-track the legislative process and approve of the Paris Agreement at the European level before all member states have finalised their national procedures.

EU prime ministers and presidents were said to have settled on the new way forward at a summit in Bratislava earlier this month.

Vote in Parliament

Today’s decision, which came much sooner than originally expected, brings the historic Paris Agreement on climate change close to entering into force globally. The ministers’ consent will now be forwarded to the European Parliament, and EU parliamentarians have already signalled they will sign off on the deal next week.

In a tweet following the announcement by Europe’s climate change ministers, EU parliament president Martin Schulz said that the European Parliament could sign-off on the deal as early as Tuesday.

Europe Gets Going

“They said Europe is too complicated to agree quickly. They said we had too many hoops to jump through. They said we were all talk,” said EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in a statement following the deal.

But today’s decision shows what Europe is all about, he said, “We are reaching a critical period for decisive climate action. And when the going gets tough, Europe gets going.”

Cañete tweeted a video of applauding climate ministers and their aides after the deal was reached.

History in The Making

So far, 61 countries, accounting for almost 48 per cent of global emissions have ratified the deal. The Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries – representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions – have ratified. The EU represents some 12 per cent of global emissions.

“I am happy to see that today the Member States decided to make history together and bring closer the entry into force of the first ever universally binding climate change agreement,” EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker commented.

“We must and we can hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies. This is not a dream. This is a reality and it is within our reach. Today we are closer to it,” Juncker said.


With the Paris accord almost ratified, the world’s attention can shift to implementation. In a little over a month, the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh will see officials and diplomats discuss the practical details of how to implement the historic agreement.

Climate-KIC, the EU’s climate innovation partnership, is set to host the Climate Innovation Summit 2016 on 8 November in Frankfurt, focusing on the solutions needed to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

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