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Turning the Paris agreement on climate change into action

Posted by Nick Prag at 21 April 2016, 18:35 CET |
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Following the signing of the Paris agreement on climate change in New York Friday, the hard work begins to ratify and implement it in the EU's 28 Member States.

The signing ceremony at the UN follows last year 's 12 December adoption of the world's first universal climate change agreement by 195 countries in Paris.

The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2°C and to drive efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

The agreement enters into force only once it has been ratified by at least 55 parties - representing at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

For the European Union, this requires the consent of the European Parliament, as well as ratification in each of the 28 EU Member States.

Last month, the Commission presented an assessment of the implications of the Paris Agreement for the EU. The Council in its conclusions 18 March 2016 called for the signature and timely ratification of the Paris Agreement by the Member States. It also asked the Commission to present the key remaining legislative proposals to implement the 2030 framework which underlines the EU's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically and to increase the share of renewable energies and improve energy efficiency, in line with the European Council agreement in October 2014.

The Commission will over the next year present proposals for an effort-sharing decision for sectors not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System and on land use, land use change and forestry; legislation to set up a reliable and transparent climate and energy governance mechanism for the post-2020 period; and necessary policy proposals to adapt the EU's regulatory framework to put energy efficiency as a top priority, and also to foster the EU's role as a world leader in the field of renewable energy.

The Commission's commitment is clear.

It now has to secure the support of Europe's 29 parliaments, and says it will present a proposal to the Council by the start of this summer to ratify the Paris Agreement on behalf of the European Union.

It could be a lengthy process. The EU also has to demonstrate that it has the policies in place to meet its commitments - policies such as the Energy Union, and fostering an environment which is favourable to the future opportunities, innovation and job-creation that the transition to a low-carbon economy will bring.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.