The landmark Paris climate change pact is poised to enter into force around the world after European Union lawmakers endorsed the agreement.
In the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the lawmakers voted Tuesday by 610 to 38 with 31 abstentions for the 28 EU nations to simultaneously ratify the agreement to limit global warming.
The deal cannot take effect until 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions, have adopted it. Sixty-two countries had done so as of Tuesday but they accounted only for about 52 percent of emissions. On Wednesday, New Zealand became the 63rd nation to ratify the Paris accord.
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The EU’s fast-track ratification takes the Paris Agreement past the 55 percent threshold. The handover to the UN of a legal document formally doing that is expected to happen by Friday.
“With the action taken by the EU parliament, I am confident that we will be able to cross the 55 percent threshold very soon; in a matter of days,” Ban told reporters.
The Paris agreement commits rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
The EU prides itself on being a leader in the fight against global warming, but it came under heavy criticism after the US and China beat the bloc to enact the accord.
The EU, which accounts for 12 percent of global emissions, originally planned to wait for its member states to approve the deal domestically, but given the slow pace of progress it moved on their behalf.
International momentum has been building to ensure that the deal could enter force by next UN climate conference, which starts November 7 in Marrakech, Morocco.