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The vote of 610 for, 38 against and 31 abstentions puts the European Union on track to hand over its ratification to the United Nations on Friday, which would then take the international community above the threshold needed for implementation.
“You now have an opportunity to make history by helping lead the way to a better future,” the UN secretary general told more than 700 EU lawmakers gathered in Strasbourg, France just before the vote.
“With the action taken by the EU parliament, I am confident that we will be able to cross 55 percent threshold very soon, in just a matter of a few days,” Ban said after EU lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to approve the accord.
“I am extremely honoured to be able to witness this historic moment,” he said. “We have seen extraordinary action from all corners of the globe to bring this agreement to life this year.
“You now have an opportunity to make history by helping lead the world to a better future … let us show we are united.”
European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said the milestone heralded a harder phase of turning promises into cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Our collective task is to turn our commitments into action on the ground,” he said in a statement.
Ratification by the EU, which accounts for about 12 percent of global emissions, is expected to be deposited with the United Nations by Friday. China and the United States, the top emitters, ratified the pact this month.
A rare show of European unity
It also marked a rare show of unity by a bloc divided over Britain’s vote to leave the EU, migration and the economy. EU leaders agreed a legislative shortcut to fast-track approval of the Paris accord to avoid lagging behind other nations in backing the global pact it championed.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Today we continued to show leadership and prove that together the European Union can deliver.”
The accord aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times.
Once ratification is deposited with the United Nations, the accord enters into force 30 days later, early enough for it to be locked into place ahead of the next round of climate talks in November in Morocco.
Cementing the accord before the US presidential election on Nov. 8 would make it harder to challenge if Republican Donald Trump, who has opposed it, beats Democrat Hillary Clinton, a strong supporter.
So far, 62 nations accounting for almost 52 percent of global emissions have ratified. Within the EU, Germany, Hungary, France, Austria, Slovakia and Malta – collectively representing 4.39 percent of global emissions – have ratified individually.