Climate Change

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Client Update: Paris Agreement on climate change to enter into force before COP22

6 October 2016

In brief: Overnight, the Paris Agreement met its second and final threshold for entry into force, when the EU lodged its instruments of ratification with the UN. Partner Andrew Mansour (view CV), Senior Associate Emily Gerrard and Associate Ellie Mulholland take a brief look at the events this week that triggered the early entry into force of this landmark climate change agreement.

EU ratification starts the clock on the countdown to the commencement of the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement has passed its second threshold required for entry into force and will commence before the upcoming UN climate change conference at Marrakesh (COP22), the UN Secretary-General announced yesterday.1 As reported in the media, the EU Parliament voted on Tuesday night to ratify the Paris Agreement.2 While the vote was an important step towards the Paris Agreement's entry into force, there were a few final boxes to tick – and now a 30-day period that needs to pass – before the commencement of the landmark agreement.

The Paris Agreement will enter into force 30 days after it has been ratified by at least 55 parties to the UNFCCC, accounting for at least an estimated 55 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

The first limb of this commencement trigger was met towards the end of September and 73 parties have now deposited their instruments with the UN Secretary General in New York.3 The past month has seen the US and China together submit their instruments of acceptance and ratification and India deposited its instrument on Sunday, 2 October, bringing the second hurdle – a requirement that a sufficient number of parties that would constitute at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – within reach. This week also saw our near neighbours, New Zealand, deposit its instrument of ratification.4

On 30 September, EU environment ministers agreed to a fast-track process whereby the EU would deposit its instrument of ratification by 7 October and that member states would deposit their instruments of ratification either together with the EU or as soon as possible afterwards.5 On 4 October, the EU Parliament voted to approve the ratification, which paved the way for the Council to formally adopt the decision and then lodge the instrument with the UN.6 Given that large emitting member states France and Germany have completed their national procedures for ratification, the 30-day countdown to the commencement of the Paris Agreement was triggered when the EU and these member states lodged their instruments overnight. Parties accounting for 56.9 per cent of global emissions have now ratified the agreement. The Paris Agreement will now commence in time for COP22 in Marrakesh from 7 to 18 November this year.

The Paris Agreement and COP22

The entry into force of the Paris Agreement establishes a clear goal to limit levels of greenhouse gas emissions and associated temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and sets the global community on a trajectory to net zero emissions in the second half of this century. Key mechanisms and the content and implications of the Agreement have been examined in our previous publications Focus: COP21 and the Paris Agreement (14 December 2015) and Client Update: The signing of the Paris Agreement and other developments (22 April 2016). Australia is yet to ratify the Paris Agreement, but with building momentum, it is a matter of when, not if, and business should be ready.

Allens will be keeping you up to date on any key developments in the lead up to and during COP22 in Marrakesh. In the meantime, please get in touch if you would like to discuss the entry into force of the Paris Agreement or its impact on your business generally.

  1. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Statement by the Secretary-General on the Paris Agreement on climate change (5 October 2016).
  2. European Commission, Paris Climate Agreement to enter into force as EU agrees ratification (Press release, 4 October 2016).
  3. United Nations, Paris Agreement: Status of Ratifications (accessed 6 October 2016).
  4. New Zealand ratification of Paris Agreement (4 October 2016), UN Doc C.N.722.2016.TREATIES-XXVII.7.d (Depositary Notification).
  5. Council of the European Union, Outcome of Proceedings: 12807/16 (30 September 2016).
  6. European Commission, Paris Climate Agreement to enter into force as EU agrees ratification (Press release, 4 October 2016).

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