STRASBOURG • The European Parliament yesterday overwhelmingly backed the ratification of the Paris climate deal, in a vote that paves the way for the landmark pact to come into force globally within weeks.
The United Nations agreement, backed by nearly 200 nations last December in Paris, is the most sweeping accord to combat pollution blamed for heating up the planet.
By coming into force, it will help guide a radical shift of the world economy away from fossil fuels in an effort to limit heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.
For Singapore, the pact will underpin national efforts to improve energy efficiency, greener transport and renewable energy investment.
"Today, the European Union turned climate ambition into climate action," said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker after the parliamentary vote during a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, that was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
TOWARDS A BETTER FUTURE
We have seen extraordinary action from all corners of the globe to bring this agreement to life this year. You now have an opportunity to make history by helping to lead the world to a better future.
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI MOON, who attended the vote.
Today, the European Union turned climate ambition into climate action.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, after the parliamentary vote.
European Union approval, expected to be signed off by the bloc's 28 nations this week, will push the deal over the required threshold to enter into force.
"I am extremely honoured to be able to witness this historic moment," Mr Ban said. "We have seen extraordinary action from all corners of the globe to bring this agreement to life this year. You now have an opportunity to make history by helping to lead the world to a better future... let us show we are united."
European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said the milestone heralded a harder phase of turning promises into cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. "Our collective task is to turn our commitments into action on the ground," he said in a statement.
Ratification by the EU, which accounts for about 12 per cent of global emissions, is expected to be deposited with the UN by Friday.
To come into force, the accord needs ratification from 55 countries, which must together account for at least 55 per cent of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions.
China and the United States, the top emitters, ratified the pact last month. With a decision in the last few days by India, the third biggest emitter, a total of 62 countries have ratified the agreement to commit to take action to stem the planet's rising temperatures.
They all account for 52 per cent of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions, and EU ratification will bring it over the 55 per cent threshold by including the seven EU countries that have already approved it.
The EU aims to reduce the heat-trapping gases by at least 40 per cent in 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
Yesterday's vote also marked a rare show of unity by a bloc divided over Britain's vote to leave the EU, migration and the economy.
EU leaders agreed to a legislative short cut to fast-track approval of the Paris accord to avoid lagging behind other nations in backing the global pact it championed.
The accord aims to limit global warming to "well below" 2 deg C compared with pre-industrial times.
Once ratification is deposited with the UN, the accord enters into force 30 days later, early enough for it to be locked into place ahead of the next round of climate talks in Morocco next month.
Cementing the accord before the US presidential election on Nov 8 would make it harder to challenge if Republican Donald Trump, who has opposed it, beats Democrat Hillary Clinton, a strong supporter.
Oxfam gave a cautious welcome, urging all member states that they face a "credibility test" in sticking to the deal.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG