The Slovak parliament today voted today (21 September) to ratify the Paris Agreement, the landmark international treaty in the fight against climate change. After France, Hungary and Austria, Slovakia, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, is the fourth country to ratify the deal.
The Paris Agreement seeks to keep the increase in global average temperature by the end of this century to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
The motion for ratification was presented by the Slovak Environment Minister László Sólymos. “I’m happy to see that the Agreement has passed through the ratification process of our Parliament, and I believe that Slovakia will set a positive example for the other EU member states,” Sólymos said after the vote.
“As the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU, we’re now able to focus fully on completing the ratification procedure at European level as soon as possible. This is one of our key priorities,” said the minister.
When world leaders in Paris last December agreed on a landmark deal to cap global warming, it was hailed as the starting gun on an irreversible path to a low-carbon economy.
Slovakia aims to coordinate the ratification process so that the EU can finish it by 7 October 2016. To this end, Sólymos has called an extraordinary session of the Environment Council on 30 September in Brussels.
If all EU countries ratify the agreement, the climate conference that opens in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 7 November, could feature the first meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement, including the EU and Slovakia. The parties would thus be involved in decision-making on crucial issues regarding the implementation of the Agreement.
The treaty will enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, accounting in total for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification.
China and the US, which together represent the largest share of global emissions, have already completed this process. The EU is the third largest emitter.
To date, the treaty has been ratified by 29 countries representing over 40% of global emissions. Another 30 countries are set to deposit their instruments of ratification today at a ceremony organised by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The United States has joined China to formally ratify the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions, the world’s two biggest economies said on Saturday, which could help put the pact into force before the end of the year.
Slovak President Andrej Kiska now has to append his signature to Parliament’s approval of the ratification.
Kiska represents Slovakia at the current session of the UN General Assembly in New York, where he is seeking to send a strong message later this week and urge countries in which the ratification procedure is still ongoing to complete the ratification process as soon as possible.
Europe’s environment ministers have called for the Paris agreement, concluded last December at COP21, to be ratified as quickly as possible, both at EU and member state level.