EU relief as climate change agreement secured

The European Union has secured a fast track deal paving the way for the bloc to ratify the Paris agreement on climate change, after overcoming grievances aired by Poland and Italy.

The deal between environment ministers at an emergency meeting will allow the EU to ratify the Paris Agreement, without every member state having previously ratified it at national level.
“Our reputation was on the line,” Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete told reporters in Brussels in reference to the possibility the EU would have missed the 7th October deadline and a dent to Europe’s leadership in this sphere.

“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,” he added.

Commentators and policymakers were keen to keep the Paris accord momentum going, particularly as a potential Donald Trump presidency represented a threat to progress won. Mr Trump has indicated that he would attempt to withdraw the US from the agreement if he secures the presidency.

Euractiv website reported that Poland and Italy had looked to leverage the looming deadline to win changes to the draft Effort-Sharing regulation, which sets out the share of emissions reductions each EU member state must make to a bloc-wide target.

Both wanted agreement that the regulation could only become law with the unanimous backing of member states, but both backed down. Italy wanted to be able to carry over a greater share of emissions reductions from regular measuring periods to the next period than the European Commission proposal currently allows.

The Polish government had withheld consent to a fast-track EU ratification of the Paris climate deal unless Brussels allows for the country’s special dependency on coal power. Polish diplomats held two crunch meetings with Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete before ultimately backing down.

World leaders made a landmark agreement in December last year to cap global warming to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels. The pact enters into force 30 days after 55 countries, accounting for 55% of global emissions, formally ratify the Paris Agreement.

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