Naughten secures Government approval to begin Ireland’s ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten T.D., has secured Cabinet approval that will start the process for the ratification of the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Government has today (18 October) agreed to seek the approval of Dáil Éireann under Article 29 of our Constitution which states that prior approval of Dáil Éireann is required in order to ratify an international treaty.
Minister Naughten said “Climate change is the defining challenge of our time and it is during our time that the obligation exists for us as a nation to take action. This obligation is as much an opportunity as it is an obligation. Securing Cabinet approval today, which will allow me to proceed to seek Dáil Éireann approval, is a significant step and a strong signal to the people of Ireland and to the international community of our continued support for the Paris Agreement. The wave of global momentum behind the ratification of the Paris Agreement has been unprecedented. It is our children's future and of vital national interest. I am seeking full support from all members of Dáil Éireann to facilitate its passage and ratify it before the next session of the ‘Conference of the Parties, COP22’ which will be held in Marrakesh from 7 to 18 November 2016.”
Notes to the Editor:
The Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was agreed by over 195 countries and Parties at COP21 in 2015, will enter into force on 4 November, ahead of the next Conference of the Parties, COP22, which will be held in Marrakesh from 7 to 18 November 2016. As a consequence, the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Agreement (CMA 1) will be convened during the Marrakesh Climate Change Conference.
This is a significant achievement by the international community, with the first ever universal, legally binding global climate deal entering into force less than a year after it was agreed.
The terms of the Paris Agreement require that it be ratified by at least 55% of Parties to the Convention responsible for at least 55% of global emissions. The first threshold was passed in September, and the second when the European Union submitted its instrument of ratification to the Secretary General of the United Nations on 5 October 2016.
What has the Minister secured today?
Today Ireland began our domestic ratification process, with the Government agreeing to seek the approval of Dáil Éireann to ratify the Paris Agreement. Under Article 29 of our Constitution, the prior approval of Dáil Éireann is required in order to ratify an international treaty. Initiating the process of ratification gives a strong signal to the people of Ireland and to the international community of our continued support for the Paris Agreement and our own commitment to climate action.
Why has Ireland decided to initiate the domestic ratification process now?
The terms of the Paris Agreement require that 55 Parties to the Convention, accounting in total for at least an estimated 55% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, submit their instruments of ratification to the Secretary General of the United Nations in order to trigger its entry into force. The intention when the Agreement was reached in Paris last December was that the EU and its Member states would ratify the agreement simultaneously.
The EU, in maintaining its stance as a global ambition leader on climate change, ratified the Paris Agreement ahead of its Member States and submitted its instrument of ratification on 5 October 2016. As stated this will trigger the entry into force of the Agreement ahead of the next Conference of the Parties, COP22.
The European Union and its Member States share a commitment under the Paris Agreement to cut our emissions by at least 40% by 2030. While discussions on how this commitment would be carried out by each Member State are ongoing, the European Union received the support of Ireland and the other Member States to ratify the Paris Agreement even though only seven Member States had completed their domestic ratification processes.
This has now facilitated Ireland and the other Member States in providing a separate process through which Member States can now ratify without the need for simultaneous ratification and where negotiations in respect of obligations within the EU’s commitment can continue regardless.
What is Ireland committed to under the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement requires that all Parties produce plans to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, and show increasing ambition over time with these plans. Ireland’s obligation will form part of the European Union’s overall commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This will cover both the ETS and non ETS sectors and will cover the period 2021 to 2030. Proposals for both these sectors are currently being negotiated through the relevant working groups at EU level.
The Paris Agreement also provides that developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.
To date, Ireland’s contributions of climate finance to developing countries has been Exchequer funded primarily through climate oriented spending via the Official Development Assistance Vote. A contribution to the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF) will be made later this year with further contributions expected from 2017 onwards.