13 september 2016

EU Leaders Said Due to Discuss Fast-Track Climate-Deal Approval

Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, September 13, 2016 e

* Tusk said to back accelerated EU ratification of Paris accord
* Agreement to be discussed at Sept. 16 summit in Bratislava

A fast-track ratification of the global climate deal by the European Union is going to be raised by EU President Donald Tusk at a meeting of national leaders this week, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Tusk is due to discuss an accelerated approval process for the Paris agreement by the EU at an informal gathering on Sept. 16 in Bratislava, according to the people, who asked not to be identified, citing policy. The U.K. will not participate in the summit, which was called to debate the future of the region after the Brexit referendum.

According to an opinion by EU lawyers, a quick ratification of the climate accord at the union level would require unanimous tacit or explicit consent by ministers of the bloc’s 28 member states, the people said. This accelerated procedure could be finished as soon as next month, putting the EU in a position to trigger the entry into force of the landmark climate-protection deal without having to wait for lengthy sign-off procedures by individual member states.

The EU, which aims to lead the global fight against climate change, is under increasing pressure to formally join the agreement after U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping ratified it on Sept. 3. The deal set an ambitious goal to curb temperature increases and applies to all nations, rich and poor. To enter into force, it needs to be ratified by at least 55 parties, accounting for 55 percent of global emissions.
Largest Emitters

With the world’s two largest emitters of carbon pollution now on board, the deal may take effect this year. The EU accounts for around 12 percent of global emissions. European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete called on member nations on Monday to pave the way for approval as soon as possible, warning of an increasing risk that the agreement will enter into force without the union.

“That would be a nightmare scenario,” he told members of the European Parliament’s environment committee in Strasbourg, France. “We’re in the spotlight and our reputation is at stake.”

The fast-track ratification option sparked mixed reactions from member states during discussions by experts from national governments in the previous weeks, according to two EU diplomats, who asked not to be identified because the talks were private. Some government representatives expressed concerns about EU competencies and potential legal implications of such a move for future approvals of other international agreements by the EU, they said.

The plan may also run into opposition from Poland, which signaled last week it will ratify the Paris deal only after it makes sure its interests in relation to the European climate policy are secured. The east European country, which depends on coal for about 90 percent of its electricity production, plans to rely on the most polluting fossil fuel as the main source of power for “many years,” the government said on Sept. 6.

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