The European Union approved the ratification of the global climate deal, a step that is set to enable the most sweeping accord to combat pollution to come into force less than a year after it was signed in Paris.
The European Parliament voted Tuesday to endorse the union-level approval of the accord during a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, and the bloc’s governments rubber-stamped the decision several hours later. The EU aims to deposit its ratification document at the United Nations Friday, making the climate deal’s enactment criteria fulfilled. That would pave the way for the Paris agreement to take effect 30 days later, in time for the first meeting of parties to occur at this year’s UN climate-change conference starting on Nov. 7 in Morocco.
“Today the European Union turned climate ambition into climate action,” said European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker.
The EU, which wants to lead the global fight against climate change, has come under increasing pressure to ratify the Paris deal after U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping ratified it on Sept. 3. India approved the agreement on Oct. 2 and New Zealand followed on Tuesday, taking the number of countries that have joined the agreement to 63. Together, those nations are responsible for 52.11 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Paris accord needs to be ratified by at least 55 parties accounting for 55 percent of global emissions to enter into force. The EU’s 28 nations account together for 12 percent and the seven member states that already ratified the agreement domestically cover 4.57 percent, enough to meet the 55 percent requirement.
The ratification at the union level approved by the EU Parliament enables the bloc to join the Paris agreement before the remaining member nations finalize their domestic approval procedures.
“United Europe did everything possible to speed up its proceedings and breathe life into the Paris Agreement,” said Laszlo Solymos, environment minister of Slovakia, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU.
Under the global accord reached in December, more than 190 nations agreed to work toward capping global temperature increases since pre-industrial times to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The EU aims to reduce the heat-trapping gases by at least 40 percent in 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
“We have the policies and tools to meet our targets, steer the global clean energy transition and modernize our economy,” said EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. “The world is moving and Europe is in a driver’s seat, confident and proud of leading the work to tackle climate change.”