Blog Post

Could Europe come up short in the race to the Marrakesh climate conference?

One year after the Paris climate conference, Europe struggles to advance its own ratification process of the agreement. However, a fast-track EU ratification procedure could enable the Paris Agreement to enter into force in time for the Marrakesh climate conference.

By: Date: September 28, 2016 Topic: Energy & Climate

A year ago, Europe was in the vanguard of the global push towards the Paris climate conference. Forthright in its climate leadership, Europe built the ‘High Ambition Coalition’ that tipped the balance in the attempt to secure the first universal, legally binding global climate deal.

A year after Paris, the position of Europe relative to the ratification of the Paris Agreement looks profoundly different. With the surprisingly quick acceptance of the Agreement by the United States and China in early September, and with India’s ratification coming up on 2 October, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, the ratification process threatens to overtake Europe.

Quicker than expected ratification makes it possible that the double threshold (55 parties responsible for at least 55 percent of global emissions) for entry into force of the Paris Agreement will be reached in time for the Marrakesh climate conference, scheduled to start on 7 November. With 61 countries covering 47.79 percent of global emissions having already ratified the Agreement by 26 September, such a scenario looks almost certain.

blog_st_1

These are all positive developments. They demonstrate that there is global momentum to address climate change. However, as Europe struggles to advance its own ratification process, it risks being left out of this success.

The normal process requires the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and member states to advance in parallel their respective ratification procedures. Because ratifications are needed from all 28 member states, on the basis of the respective domestic procedures of each, this process is naturally time-consuming. An additional drag on the process has been created by member states tying the ratification to EU concessions on energy and climate policy. By 26 September, only five EU countries had ratified the Paris Agreement: Austria, France, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia.

To avoid the ‘nightmare scenario’ of the Paris Agreement coming into force without the EU, European leaders agreed at the 16 September Bratislava Summit to hold on 30 September an extraordinary meeting of EU environment ministers to decide on the potential adoption of a fast-track EU ratification procedure.

This procedure would be based on the fact that the EU is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in its own right. Consequently, with the unanimous consent of the Environment Council, the European Parliament could already approve the ratification of the Paris Agreement at its next plenary session from 3-6 October. The EU’s ratification, representing about 12 percent of global emissions, would enable the Paris Agreement to enter into force in time for the Marrakesh climate conference, with the EU being part of the success.

blog_st_2

The adoption of the exceptional fast-track procedure is highly desirable. Ensuring the presence of the EU at the entry into force of the Agreement is crucial for both technical and political reasons.

In technical terms, the entry into force of the Agreement will trigger the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (the CMA in short), which is the formation that will make decisions under the Paris Agreement. If it has not ratified the Agreement, the EU will only be able to observe the discussions of the CMA, without having voting rights. In short, the EU would not be part of the decision-making process established by the Paris Agreement.

In political terms, a delay to the EU ratification process would clearly send a negative signal about Europe’s capability to respect in a timely way its international commitments. It would represent a major reputational setback for the EU, particularly considering the key role played by the EU in the making of the Paris Agreement itself.

In this context, the EU environment ministers should seize the opportunity presented by the extraordinary meeting of 30 September to reiterate the political backing of their governments for the commitments already assumed by them at the EU Council of October 2014 (which endorsed the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Framework that subsequently became the  EU Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to the COP21). The environment ministers should unanimously trigger the fast-track procedure. This should be done in a transparent and unified manner, without any concession to any member state. Only this would guarantee to Europe the place it deserves at the table in the international effort against climate change at the forthcoming Marrakesh climate conference.

The author would like to thank Georg Zachmann for helpful comments and Enrico Nano for the excellent research assistance.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read article More by this author

Opinion

The UN climate conference in Katowice: A message from the European capital of coal

Following the COP24 climate talks in Poland, Simone Tagliapietra reviews the arguments for and challenges to decarbonisation.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: December 12, 2018
Read article Download PDF More by this author

External Publication

A new strategy for EU-Turkey energy cooperation

Cooperation over energy and climate issues could be one of the components of the EU-Turkey Positive Agenda. Simone Tagliapietra proposes a new strategy for EU-Turkey energy cooperation, which envisions a shift of focus from gas and electricity to fields such as renewables and nuclear energy.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: December 5, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

External Publication

Learning for decarbonisation

This external publication, put together in the framework of the COP21 RIPPLES Consortium, makes the case that national decarbonisation strategies should put a special emphasis on the benefits of learning. Accordingly, countries should start early to deploy and develop low-carbon technologies, concentrate on promising technologies, exploit individual regional strength and bear in mind the opportunities and constraints of the national innovation system.

By: Alexander Roth and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: November 8, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Deep Focus: Renewing the clean energy strategy in the Mediterranean

In this episode of Deep Focus, Bruegel research fellow Simone Tagliapeitra explains how the nature of cross-Mediterranean energy relations needs to change, not only in line with new climate-change targets but also to meet the burgeoning energy demand outside Europe.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate Date: October 16, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

Policy Brief

The Euro-Mediterranean energy relationship: a fresh perspective

The author analyses the current renewable energy development in Southern Mediterranean countries (SMCs) and proposes a climate financing strategy that retreats from the Eurocentric approach. Not only will it allow the region to meet its energy demand sustainably, it will also benefit the EU, both in economic and political terms.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: October 16, 2018
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

Policy responses for an EU-MENA shared future

In the third edition of the "Platform for Advanced & Emerging Economies Policy Dialogue" we will discuss trade flows and trade policy between Europe and MENA, integration of developing economies into global value chains, and regional energy relations.

Speakers: Karim El Aynaoui, Marek Dabrowski, Uri Dadush, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Ettore Greco, Giuseppe Grimaldi, Badr Ikken, Joanna Konings, Said Moufti, Pier Carlo Padoan, Lia Quartapelle, Visar Sala, Nicolò Russo Perez, Nicolò Sartori, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Location: LUISS Business School Viale Pola, 12, 00198 Roma RM, Italy Date: October 11, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

Electrification in sub-Saharan Africa: The role of international institutions

Bruegel fellow Simone Tagliapietra contributed to the new issue of the 'Oxford Energy Forum' with an article on the role of international and European financing institutions in fostering the electrification of Africa.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: September 11, 2018
Read article More on this topic

External Publication

Energy in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

Bruegel fellow Simone Tagliapietra co-authored a new book on energy in Africa.

By: Manfred Hafner, Simone Tagliapietra and Lucia de Strasser Topic: Energy & Climate Date: September 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Ukraine: The struggle for reforms continues

The modernisation of the Ukrainian economy and state continues to develop at an unsatisfactory pace due to a lack of pro-reform political consensus. The two upcoming election campaigns in 2019 (presidential and parliamentary) make the reform process even slower and additionally put its effectiveness and sustainability under risk. The international community has a limited toolkit to overcome this stalemate.

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 4, 2018
Read article

Parliamentary Testimony

European Parliament

Brexit and Energy Policy

Testimony before the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

By: Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: May 28, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Cleaning up Europe's transport sector: which strategies?

Over the last decade, EU’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased significantly in all sectors with the only exception of transport. This sector is thus becoming a key obstacle to EU decarbonisation and more aggressive policies are needed to decarbonise it. This event discussed the potential strategies to structurally address this issue, also on the basis of Bruegel’s new policy proposal in the field.

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, Francesco Starace and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 3, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Brexit consequences for EU climate and energy policy

Bruegel fellow Georg Zachmann joins Richard Tol, professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Sussex, and Pieter-Willem Lemmens, head of analysis at the climate policy think-tank Sandbag, for this episode of 'The Sound of Economics', to discuss the impact of Brexit on climate and energy policy in the European Union.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate Date: February 15, 2018
Load more posts