Brussel EU countries have agreed to formally approve last year's major climate agreement in Paris. The go-ahead means that the agreement can come into force earlier than expected.

The requirement for the agreement to come into force is that it must be approved by at least 55 countries which account for at least 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. The latest in the line of countries to ratify the agreement is India, whose decision on Sunday (2 October) means that it is now approved by the 62 parties which together account for 51.9 per cent of global emissions.

Thanks to EU environment ministers at an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on 30 September being in favour of ratifying the agreement, the second criterion can now also be met already this week. EU emissions account for 12.1 per cent of global emissions.

"I'm very happy that the EU has shown a united front and made a decision that turns the Paris agreement into a reality," says Erik Filipsson, Policy Advisor at Vattenfall.

The only thing that remains is that the agreement must also be approved by the European Parliament, and this is scheduled to take place in Strasbourg tomorrow morning, 4 October.

"The approval is a show of strength by the EU, in that it clearly demonstrates the Union's determination to play a formal role in the Paris Agreement from the date when it comes into force," says Filipsson.

The Paris agreement requires each country to approve the agreement at national level. But the approval has created a fast track by which the EU can ratify the agreement before all member countries have approved it in their respective parliaments.

"Although ratification of the Paris Agreement is a crucial cornerstone in the new climate regime, the most important issue still remains, namely that of transforming the ambitious objectives into concrete action in all countries to jointly limit global warming 'to well below 2°C'," says Filipsson.

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