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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Environment ministers from all 28 European Union states agreed on Friday to a fast-track, collective ratification of last year's U.N. Paris climate deal, the EU said.
"All member states greenlight early EU ratification of Paris Agreement. What some believed impossible is now real," tweeted European Council President Donald Tusk, whose home country Poland had been the main state resisting such a swift accord.
The executive European Commission hailed a "historic" move that brings the Paris accord to the brink of taking effect.
Agreed by 195 countries in December, the accord is designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions and avert dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial times.
EU ratification is a key milestone, as the agreement only takes effect once at least 55 nations making up at least 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions ratify it.
"Once approved by the European Parliament next week, the EU will be able to deposit its ratification instrument," the Commission said in a statement. The EU agreement, over Polish objections that it wanted more guarantees for its coal-fired economy, short-cuts 28 separate national ratification processes.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The European Union delivers on promises made ... The member states decided to make history together and bring closer the entry into force of the first ever universally binding climate change agreement."
Energy and climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said: "They said Europe is too complicated to agree quickly. They said we had too many hoops to jump through. They said we were all talk. Today's decision shows what Europe is all about: unity and solidarity as Member States take a European approach."
Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Mark Trevelyan