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UPDATE 1-EU leaders seek to agree shortcut to launching Paris climate deal
September 30, 2016 / 11:11 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-EU leaders seek to agree shortcut to launching Paris climate deal

* Shortcut would allow European Union to ratify next week

* Rare political “win” sought amid Brexit, migration discord

* Polish objections had cast doubt on speedy ratification

* But Warsaw now hints parliament will sign off shortly (Adds Polish comments, details on agreement)

By Alissa de Carbonnel

BRUSSELS, Sept 30 (Reuters) - European Union states aimed on Friday to agree a shortcut to ratify the Paris climate deal and trigger its entry into force 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 they had championed takes effect, EU leaders - at a summit held earlier this month in Bratislava - hatched the plan to bypass lengthy ratifications by each of the 28 member states.

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 told Reuters.

Poland sought concessions for its coal-fired economy ahead of Friday’s special gathering, so EU environment ministers were aiming for a way to break with normal procedure and lock collectively 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.


“The fact that we are a member of the EU cannot be a brake to our economy,” Polish Environment Ministry spokesman Pawel Mucha said on Friday.

However, in a signal that lifted hopes for a deal, the Polish government gave the go-ahead to domestic approval of the Paris pact this week, with Mucha saying it could be adopted by parliament in “the coming days.”

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

“It’s about keeping our (EU) international leadership role in fighting climate change. We can’t fall to the back of the pack,” Austria’s minister, Andrae Rupprechter, said.

Any agreement struck on Friday would then need to be endorsed in a vote by the European Parliament on Oct. 4.

But the EU shortcut, dubbed “institutional creativity” by France’s minister, ultimately hangs on trust that each of the 28 will follow through with their own ratifications. If they do not, those who have gone ahead could be stuck with fulfilling the promised emissions cuts of the bloc as a whole.

Cementing the Paris accord before the U.S. presidential election 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.

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, Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw and Alister Doyle in Oslo; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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