The climate world has been abuzz in recent days about the ‘fast ratification’ of the Paris Agreement - whether the EU will do it, when, and what this means.
‘Fast ratification’ simply means speeding up the cumbersome process of bringing the international climate change agreement into force.
It means the EU will be able to flip the usual procedure around. Normally all 28 Member States, with their various legal and administrative hoops and hurdles, have to ratify before the EU as a whole is able to. But ‘fast EU ratification’ just needs the agreement of the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
This matters because if the EU doesn’t ratify the Paris Agreement in time, the Agreement will enter into force globally without the EU. Meaning the EU has no official say on the rules of implementation, or the provisions of the Agreement.
So there is a reason for the fuss around fast ratification. Despite this, doing things quickly should not come at the expense of doing them well. Particularly when it’s about something as fundamental to our survival as tackling climate change.
In the EU’s case, it is crucial that the high-level meetings and the back-and-forth over the speed of ratification are anchored to real ambition on climate and energy. This means meaningful targets and policies which go beyond ‘business as usual’ to push a change in behaviour.
Upcoming proposals on energy efficiency and renewables to 2030, and on planning and reporting, and negotiations on emissions reductions policies, will be litmus tests of the EU’s climate credibility.
Above all, with everyone’s eyes so much on ratification over the next few weeks, it is key that long-term climate planning is not relegated to second place. Only transparent and ambitious plans for reducing emissions up to 2050 and beyond can provide the certainty investors and businesses need. Only strong long-term climate plans will show non-EU countries that the EU intends to uphold its Paris pledges now and in the future, whatever the speed of its ratification.
So whilst fast ratification will give a much-needed boost to climate action, it is long term plans which will ensure we get - and stay - on track to reach the Paris Agreement’s pledge to hold global warming under 1.5 degrees. The MaxiMiseR project aims to support Member States in developing transparent, shared ambitious plans.