Ambassadors from the EU and the seven Member States that have already completed their National procedures (Slovakia, France, Hungary, Germany, Malta, Austria and Portugal) formally materialised the act last Friday.
EU deposits the instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement at the UN in New York. Credits: EU.
The European Union has officially joined the Paris Agreement, triggering the entry into force on 4 November 2016 of the landmark deal to tackle Climate Change which is, maybe, the greatest environmental challenge of our time, and clearly, a contributing factor to migration resulting from state fragility, insecurity and resource scarcity. The Agreement seeks to keep the increase in the global average temperature to well less than 2°C above pre industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It sets out to help countries deal with climate impacts and recover from such impacts.
The official ceremony took place in New York at the UN headquarters hosted by the Slovak Minister of Environment and President of the Council, László Sólymos, and Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete.
Commissioner Arias Cañete said: "we're honoured to contribute to the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. It is not what we say but what we do that counts. The EU urges all countries that have not ratified the Paris Agreement yet to do it as soon as possible. Our urgency is in the service of this and future generations. Today we celebrate, tomorrow we work together."
Last Tuesday, the European Parliament's consent to the final Agreement reached in Paris - the first ever universal and legally binding global climate deal, was the first milestone of a historic week for Europe. Parliament's approval cleared the last hurdle to conclude the political process for the European Union to ratify the Agreement and enable it to enter into force by fulfilling the second criterion of covering at least 55% of global emissions.
The Parliament approved the ratification by the European Union in the presence of the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, the United Nation's Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the 21th Conference of the Parties, COP21, and French Minister of Environment, Ségolène Royal.
President Juncker who had called for a swift ratification of the Agreement in his State of the Union Speech, on 14 September, following the parliamentary vote said: "Today the European Union turned climate ambition into Climate Action. 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." As well, on this occasion he took the opportunity to pay tribute to Ségolène Royal of whom he wanted to emphasize her hard work and perseverance.
For her part, Ségolène Royal, highlighted: "L'Europe est en marche pour le climat. Grâce au vote de ratification de l'Accord de Paris par l'Europe, l'Accord va entrer en vigueur dans les prochains jours. Dans le Parlement européen, 610 voix ont parlé pour un moment historique. Aujourd’hui c'est un grand jour par la planète et l'Europe: chose promise, chose faite."
The Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, said: "The European Parliament has heard the voice of its people. 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."
Commissioner Arias Cañete, said: "Our collective task is to turn our commitments into action on the ground. And here Europe is ahead of the curve. We have the policies and tools to meet our targets, steer the global clean energy transition and modernise our economy. The world is moving and Europe is in a driver's seat, confident and proud of leading the work to tackle Climate Change."
The Council's decision
After the Parliament gave its consent, a few hours later, the second milestone of the week came with the adoption by the Council of the decision which was deposited on Friday 7 October 2016 as written instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the UN, depositary of the Paris Agreement.
László Sólymos, President of the Council, made the following assessment then: "United, Europe did everything possible to speed up its proceedings and breathe life into the Paris Agreement. The Council's adoption of the decision in just a few hours (after Parliament's consent) illustrates our commitment to keeping our promises. The deposit of the ratification instruments will finally round off the whole process. We can all be collectively proud of this achievement."
Financial aspects of the Paris Agreement
Also this week, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank welcomed an influx of finance ministers and central bankers to its annual meetings in Washington DC to make progress towards mobilizing USD100 billion in annual financing flows from rich countries to developing economies by 2020. The cost of making the transition to a low-carbon future is measured in trillions. One estimate suggests that around USD90 trillion will need to be invested by 2030 in infrastructure, agriculture and energy systems, to accomplish the Paris Agreement.
The European Investment Bank, EIB, the European Union's bank and the world’s largest issuer of green bonds, also welcomed its EU ratification and has committed, in support of the Paris Agreement, to provide about EUR 90 billion of new financing for Climate Action projects in the coming five years.
Thanks to the EU ratification, the Paris Agreement, which was adopted on 12 December 2015, will legally enter into force on 4 November 2016 in time for the COP22 Climate Change Conference due to be held in Marrakech (Morocco) on 7-18 November.
The EU, which played a decisive role in building the coalition of ambition making its adoption possible, is a global leader on Climate Action. The European Commission has already brought forward the legislative proposals to deliver on the EU’s commitment to reduce emissions in the European Union by at least 40% by 2030 and the Council is expected to adopt conclusions on the financing aspects of Climate Change at the ECOFIN meeting next Tuesday in Luxembourg, ahead of the COP22. The Council's draft conclusions will constitute the EU's mandate for the Conference of Marrakech as concerns the financing aspects.
The Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 and the Paris Agreement provide clear opportunities to establish and strengthen partnerships with Africa where the EU aims to support developing countries, notably the most vulnerable, and help them move directly to low-carbon economies and strengthen their climate resilience. The Conference of Marrakech will discuss the details of the Paris Agreement and prepare for implementation of all its provisions. These cover the reduction of emissions, adaptation to Climate Change and support for developing and most vulnerable countries. Key issues will include scaling-up action before 2020 and ensuring financial flows.