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Paris climate accord likely to take effect by year's end

BRUSSELS -- The European Union is expected to agree to ratify the landmark Paris accord on global warming by the end of this year at a Sept. 30 meeting of its environment ministers, EU diplomatic sources told the Mainichi Shimbun.

The EU had initially planned to go through domestic procedures in which each of its 28 member states would ratify the climate deal first, but the EU is to take preferential measures to place priority on the bloc's ratification of the climate accord without waiting for the 28 member states to go through the necessary procedures. The EU's anticipated move will likely help meet conditions necessary for the Paris accord to take effect, making it almost certain for the climate deal to enter into force by the end of this year.

The Paris accord on slashing greenhouse gas emissions takes effect one month after at least 55 nations making up at least 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions ratify it.

According to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 61 countries, accounting for about 47.8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, had deposited their instruments of ratification by Sept. 26.

The EU accounts for about 12.1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but the amount of emissions by only member states that have ratified the accord could be added to the total for the Paris accord. In that case, the EU accounts for about 4.4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions with a total of five countries -- France, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Germany -- ratifying the climate deal as of Sept. 27. India, which accounts for about 4 percent, has announced its plan to ratify the deal on Oct. 2, bringing total emissions to over 55 percent of global emissions -- clearing the requirements for the climate accord to take effect.

The EU had initially assumed to take procedures in which it would submit its instrument of ratification to the U.N. secretariat together with its member states after their ratification. There were widespread views that it would be difficult for the EU to ratify the Paris accord by the end of this year because some member states showed their stance not to ratify the deal until a decision is reached on how to cover emission reductions among member states in the transport, agriculture and other sectors. But China and the United States -- the world's No. 1 and No. 2 gas emitters -- ratified the Paris agreement simultaneously on Sept. 3, quickly fostering momentum for the climate deal to take effect by the end of this year. An EU diplomatic source said that the EU began to increasingly fear that if the Paris accord were to take effect without the EU, it would dent the credibility of the bloc, which had played a leading role in advancing negotiations on climate change.

According to multiple EU diplomatic sources, there wasn't major opposition in prior consultations to a plan to prioritize the EU's ratification of the climate accord without waiting for each of its member states to ratify it. The EU is expected to agree to ratify the pact at the meeting of EU environment ministers on Sept. 30, setting the stage for the European Parliament to approve it at a plenary session in early October. The EU wants to have the Paris accord take effect at the 22nd session of the U.N. Conference of Parties to the Convention on Climate Change that kicks off in Marrakesh, Morocco, in early November.

While the Paris accord is almost certain to take effect by the end of this year, Japan has been moving slowly with no decision yet on a ratification plan at a Cabinet meeting. Japan could be left out in the cold as those countries that have not ratified the accord will not be allowed to take part in discussions on specific rules of the Paris agreement.

The Japanese government is planning to submit a ratification plan to the current extraordinary Diet session, but there are no prospects of deliberating on it because other key issues such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal are set to be dealt with first. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made no mention of the Paris accord in his policy speech to the Diet on Sept. 26. If the EU and India were to speed up necessary procedures for ratification, the Paris accord would highly likely take effect without Japan.

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