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EU leaders seek to agree shortcut to launching Paris climate deal
September 30, 2016 / 9:51 AM / a year ago

EU leaders seek to agree shortcut to launching Paris climate deal

* Polish objections cast doubt on speedy ratification

* Shortcut would allow European Union to ratify next week

* Rare political victory sought amid Brexit, migration rows

By Alissa de Carbonnel

BRUSSELS, Sept 30 (Reuters) - European Union states aimed on Friday to agree a shortcut to ratify the Paris climate deal next week, keen for a rare political breakthrough at a time of discord over migration and Britain’s vote to leave the bloc.

Faced with the embarrassing prospect of being left out when the pact to curb global warming that it had championed takes effect, EU leaders hatched a plan to bypass lengthy ratifications by each of the 28 member states when they held a summit this month in Bratislava.

When France raised doubts over an individual ratification process so sluggish that the head of the EU executive described it as “ridiculous”, it was agreed “that the EU cannot just talk, but also has to deliver on its promises”, a bloc official said.

“We need a win... We need some good news,” an EU diplomat said.

With Poland seeking concessions for its coal-fired economy ahead of Friday’s special gathering, EU environment ministers were seeking to smooth disputes over breaking with normal procedure and locking jointly into the Paris accord.

“There is one member state that will not make the discussion easy,” Spain’s Isabel Garcia Tejerina said, alluding to Poland.

Germany drew a red line over Poland’s demands. “We cannot start horse-trading over the different national ideas on climate policy,” Environment Minister Jochen Flasbarth said.

When EU regulators unveiled plans in July for spreading the burden of the bloc’s climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels, Poland objected to its target.

If ministers can seal a fast track for the EU, the world’s No. 3 emitter, it would tip into force an accord to keep planet temperature rises “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, less than a year after it was reached by delegates from nearly 200 nations and before the next U.N. climate talks round in November.

“It’s about keeping our international leadership role in fighting climate change. We can’t fall to the back of the pack,” Austria’s minister, Andrae Rupprechter, said. “It is paramount for the European Union to remain credible.”

Cementing the Paris accord before the U.S. presidential elections on Nov. 8 would also make it harder to unravel if Republican Donald Trump, who has opposed it, wins that vote.

To take effect, it needs ratification by 55 countries that account for 55 percent of global emissions. So far, 61 nations representing 47.8 percent of emissions have ratified, led by China and the United States. India is set to ratify on Sunday.

So far, Germany, Hungary, France, Austria and Slovakia have individually ratified the Paris pact within the EU, accounting for some 12 percent of global emissions. (Additional reporting by Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Alister Doyle in Oslo; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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