The European Union is now on the verge of ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change as the alliance’s 751-member parliament approved the accord on Tuesday.
The EU nations account for about 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Once EU ratification is formally communicated to the United Nations, the last requirement for the Paris Agreement to take effect will have been met because nations responsible for more than 63 percent of the planet’s emissions of atmosphere-warming gases will have accepted it.
At least 55 nations that are responsible for at least 55 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions must ratify, adopt, accept, or accede to the Paris Agreement before it commences to bind signatory countries.
“Our vote paves the way to ensure that the agreement meets the necessary threshold,” EU Parliament president Martin Schulz said in a statement. “The entry into force of the Paris agreement less than one year after its signature is a massive achievement, given that it took eight years for the Kyoto protocol.”
The Council of the European Union must formally approve the Paris Agreement before an instrument of ratification can be submitted to the UN. That submission is expected to occur by Friday.
Once it does so, a 30-day clock until the climate deal takes effect will commence running. If the EU submits its ratification to the UN by Friday, then the Paris Agreement will go into effect before the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8.
Several individual EU members have also ratified the climate deal, including Austria, France, Germany, Malta, Portugal, and Slovakia.
New Zealand also ratified the Paris Agreement on Tuesday, raising to 63 the number of countries that have done so.
UPDATE, Oct. 5, 2016, 11:49 pm MDT:
Canada and Nepal ratified the Paris Agreement on Wednesday, which means that 73 nations that account for more than 57 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions have done so.
United Nations secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon said that the accord will take effect on Nov. 4.
“Global momentum for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in 2016 has been remarkable,” he said. “What once seemed unthinkable is now unstoppable.”
“Strong international support for the Paris Agreement entering into force is testament to the urgency for action, and reflects the consensus of Governments that robust global cooperation is essential to meet the climate challenge.”
President Barack Obama also hailed the events.
“Today, the world meets the moment,” he said in comments delivered in the White House Rose Garden. “And if we follow through on the commitments that this agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet.”