EU parliament backs Paris climate deal

Earth's average land and ocean surface temperatures warmed to record levels in 2015
Earth's average land and ocean surface temperatures warmed to record levels in 2015

The European Parliament Tuesday overwhelmingly backed the ratification of the Paris climate deal, in a vote attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon that paves the way for the landmark pact to come into force globally.

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.

EU environment ministers backed the fast-track ratification of the deal last Friday, despite the fact that only seven out of 28 EU countries have actually ratified it since it was sealed in Paris in December.

Fears that the United States and China, the world's two biggest polluters, were leaving Europe behind on ratifying last year's historic deal pushed them into rushing through the ratification.

The accord needs ratification from 55 countries that account for at least 55 percent of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

With decisions in the last few weeks by top three polluters China, the United States and India, a total of 62 countries have ratified the agreement to commit to take action to stem the planet's rising temperatures.

They all account for 52 percent of the planet's , and EU ratification will bring it over 55 percent threshold by including the seven EU countries who have already approved it.

The seven EU countries— Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia—account for some five percent of global emissions.

© 2016 AFP

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