The Paris Agreement on climate change met the conditions for the accord to enter into force this week as the European Union, India and Canada formally ratified the document.
On Sunday in a surprise move, New Delhi backed the agreement while announcing that it plans to produce 40 percent of its electricity from renewable and nuclear sources by 2030. India had not been expected to give its assent so soon, as the country had declared at a G20 meeting in September that the country could not approve the document in 2016.
Ministers from the EU’s 28 member states on Friday gave their assent for fast-track ratification without requiring votes in each of the national parliaments. The European Parliament then gave its blessing on Tuesday, concluding the formal process for EU ratification. Like India, the EU was not expected to be an early adopter due to the complexity of having to ensure all national parliaments gave their approval, but this hurdle has now been set aside.
The United Kingdom, which in June voted to leave the bloc, has yet to ratify, although Prime Minister Theresa May told the UN in September that Westminster will give its assent by the end of the year.
Language in the Paris Agreement requires that in order to come into effect, the accord must be ratified by a minimum of 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions. Now that these thresholds have been surpassed, the
What appears to have pushed both India and the EU to endorse the agreement much earlier than expected is the formal ratification by the United States and China last month. With the two biggest emitters together getting close to both thresholds, it was now increasingly likely that entry into force would happen in 2016, perhaps even well before the end of the year. This meant that the next scheduled UN climate meeting, due to take place in Marrakech, Morocco, in November, would now be devoted to hammering out implementation of the Paris Agreement. Only those states that have ratified the document can be party to those discussions.
Canada’s Liberal government had wanted to wait to achieve a provincial-federal pact on climate change and energy before ratification, so that they could come to the table with a concrete roadmap of Canada’s next steps on how it will meet the pledge it made to the UN last year. Canada aims to cut emissions by 30 percent on 2005 levels by 2030, equivalent to a cut of two percent on 1990 levels—the usual international baseline—but is currently on track to blow that target. For comparison, the EU is on track to achieving a cut of 40 percent on 1990 levels by the same deadline.
The acceleration of the ratification process has sharply increased the pressure on the Trudeau government, lest the country be one of those left on the sidelines in Morroco. The Liberals kicked off debate on the agreement on Monday, with the House of Commons endorsing the document 207 to 81 on Wednesday evening.
Energy economist Mark Jaccard helped design BC’s carbon tax, and he still supports it. But he questions just how politically viable a stringent tax—at the level needed to meet climate targets—can really be. So he also continues to explore how other policies that the public find more acceptable could work.