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EU ministers ratify Paris climate agreement

One step closer to making the breakthrough arrangement a reality, European president says.

By Daniel J. Graeber
EU ministers ratify Paris climate agreement
Ministers from the European Union add their signatures to the Paris climate agreement developed last year. Photo by Reinhard Tiburzy/Shutterstock

BRUSSELS, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Members of the European Union have delivered on their promise by ratifying the Paris climate agreement, the president of the commission said Friday.

The Paris agreement calls on the global community to take action to address threats posed by a warming climate by cutting their emissions. The environment ministers from all 28 members of the European Union agreed in Brussels to ratify the arrangement.

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the decision shows member states make good on their promises to find common ground where it's needed. With the approval next week by the European Parliament, he said the deal would mean the next generation has a more stable climate platform upon which to build a more prosperous economy.

"This is not a dream. This is a reality and it is within our reach," he said. "Today we are closer to it."

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Under the terms of the agreement, wealthier nations like China and the United States are expected to help finance the shift to a low-carbon economy in poor, developing nations.

Eurostat, the European statistics office, said data from 2014, the last full year for which it published information, show the share of energy from renewable resources was 16 percent, about 89 percent above 2004 levels, the first year it started keeping records on renewables.

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European member states are obligated to use renewable energy to meet 20 percent of their energy needs by the end of the decade.

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U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping said this year they were committed to signing the Paris agreement. In the United States, federal data show 2016 will be the first time in history natural gas overtakes coal as the main source of electricity.

In the United States, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he would end U.S. involvement in the Paris agreement if elected.

"So far, 61 countries, accounting for almost 48 percent of global emissions have ratified the deal," the European Commission said. "The agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of global emissions have ratified."

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The U.N. Environment Program cautioned that, even if all the commitments under the Paris agreement materialize, emissions levels by 2030 could still potentially lead to a global average temperature increase of more than 3 degrees Celsius.

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