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The Paris Agreement Enters into Force After the EU Ratification

Monday, 10 October 2016
On 4 October 2016 the European Parliament formally approved the fast-track ratification* of the Paris Climate Agreement on behalf of the European Union (EU), with 610 votes in favour, 38 against and 31 abstentions. This historic vote, attended by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the President of COP21 Ségolène Royal, paves the way for the Paris Agreement to take effect in time for the beginning of Marrakesh UN climate change conference (COP22) on 7 November 2016.**

In accordance with its Article 21 (1), the Paris Agreement will enter into force thirty days after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), accounting in total for at least an estimated 55% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have ratified it. By 4 October 2016, 63 countries, including the three major polluters USA, China and India, had ratified the Paris Agreement. These 63 countries are responsible for the 52.11% of the global GHG emissions. As the EU collectively represents the 12% of global GHG emissions, the EU ratification would cross the second and final threshold of 55% global emissions and therefore would trigger the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker 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."

Following the vote in the European Parliament giving its consent to the EU’s ratification of the Paris Agreement, the Council formally adopted this decision by written procedure on 5 October 2016. At the same day, seven EU Member States namely, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia individually ratified the Paris Agreement.*** Together these countries brought an additional 4.57% to the 52.11 % of the global GHG emissions covered by ratifications so far. As a result, the threshold of 55% emissions was reached and thus the Paris Agreement will come into force on 4 November 2016.****

On 7 October 2016, the EU will deposit its instrument of ratification with the UN Secretary General along with the instruments of ratification of the seven aforementioned EU Member States. In parallel, the 21 Member States which have not ratified the Paris Agreement yet will deposit their instruments of ratification if and when they are adopted under domestic procedures.

The 2015 Paris Agreement is the first-ever universal legally-binding climate deal which aims to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels. All countries –developed and developing alike- are expected to submit comprehensive national climate action plans on how they will individually contribute to the global well-below 2°C goal. These so-called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are to be updated every five years «with a view to enhancing their level of ambition».

In its October 2014 conclusions, the European Council agreed on the 2030 EU climate and energy policy framework and endorsed a binding target of a reduction in GHG emissions of at least 40% by 2030 compared with 1990. The target is to be achieved collectively by the EU, with all Member States contributing to this effort on the basis of the principles of fairness and solidarity. This target was reflected in the intended NDC submitted by the EU in March 2015.
As the Paris Agreement will enter into force on 4 November 2016, the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) will take place in conjunction with COP 22 and CMP 12 in Marrakesh, Morocco from November 7-18 2016.

Notes:
*On 30 September the EU ministers, convened at an extraordinary meeting of the Environmental Council in Brussels, agreed to accelerate the EU ratification of the Paris Agreement without waiting the 28 EU Member States to ratify the Agreement separately. The next step of the fast-track joint ratification of the Paris Agreement is the authorisation of this decision by the European Parliament.
** Under these circumstances, the Paris Agreement will come into force earlier than 2020 which was the date originally proposed.
***Although not a requirement, the European Union and its 28 member states are likely to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval on the same day or in the days or weeks following the European Union. This was the case for both the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. For further information see: http://www.wri.org/faqs-about-how-paris-agreement-enters-force
**** As of 6 October 2016, the Paris Agreement has been ratified by 74 Parties out of 191 Parties that have signed the Agreement.  The 74 Parties account for 58.84% of the global GHG emissions. For further information on the status of ratification of the Paris Agreement see: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9444.php


Sources: CONSILIUM EUROPA, European Commission, UNFCCC
For further information see:
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/10/04-adoption-paris-agreement/
http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/landmark-climate-change-agreement-to-enter-into-force/
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-3284_en.htm
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/145397.pdf

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