EU climate chief Miguel Arias Cañete has told the UN general assembly to make no mistake about it: “We will ratify the Paris Agreement.”
Meeting in New York this week, the United Nations assembly put climate change front and centre with secretary general Ban Ki-moon hosting a special session about the historic Paris climate change accord.
In a video message shown during yesterday’s meeting (21 September), EU climate commissioner Cañete stressed Europe must ratify while it’s still 2016: “Yes it will be complex, yes it will involve no fewer than 29 parliaments, but yes we will get it done,” he said, referring to the EU’s national assemblies and the European Parliament.
“Let’s Get it Done”
Although the EU had originally planned for all member states to usher the Paris Agreement through their national processes before collectively ratifying the accord, member states reportedly are now considering a fast-track scenario which would see their heads of state and government sign off on the agreement during a summit on 30 September, which could be followed by the European Parliament’s sign-off on 7 October.
“It is very simple, the European Union must join the Paris Agreement this year,” said Cañete, pointing out that he is counting on all member states and the European Parliament to “act as swiftly and decisively on this as possible.”
The Paris Agreement will be activated once 55 countries representing 55 per cent of the world’s emissions have ratified it. The first test has already been passed with some 60 countries ratifying the accord so far. In terms of emissions, the counter is stuck at just below 50 per cent.
Because Europe accounts for 12 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it could trigger the activation of the historic climate accord, which would happen 30 days after both requirements are met.
“But we don’t want just 55 countries to ratify, and we don’t want just 55 percent of global emissions to be covered,” the commissioner stressed. “We want all countries and all emissions to be covered, and I can assure you this includes the European Union.”
High Ambition Coalition
Cañete is in New York this week to meet with the high ambition coalition, an effort pushed and developed by the European Union following the unsuccessful Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. The broad, global coalition of developed and developing countries played a key role in making the historic Paris Agreement on climate change a reality.
But after the adoption of the Paris Agreement last year, events have snowballed. Other big players like China and the United States have already ratified the agreement, a lot sooner than anyone expected. The EU’s member states – and most observers – had not anticipated the speed at which events are now unfolding.
With 28 bureaucracies involved in the process – who are also trying to agree on how to implement the agreement across Europe – shifting gears is extra complicated. But Cañete says he is confident Europe will get the job done, while also pointing out that even though Europe has not yet ratified the agreement, it is already working on its implementation.
“Our commitment and our record is not in question, and we are already taking this commitment into action,” he stressed, “We will continue to be the climate leader we were in Paris, we will continue to drive the high ambition coalition.”
Cañete acknowledged that when it comes to climate change, the world “spent too many years getting nowhere fast,” but added: “That changed in Paris.”
The world now has “a positive global vision” on how to move to a low carbon and climate resilient world, he said, highlighting the fact that so many countries have already ratified the Paris accord demonstrates how “the world has really bought into that vision.”
With regards to Europe’s vision, Cañete said: “Our dedication will show European unity and solidarity. Let’s get it done.”
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