Documents considered by the Committee on 20 July 2016 Contents

3EU conclusion of the Paris Agreement

Committee’s assessment

Legally and politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information awaited

Document details

Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion on behalf of the European Union of the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Legal base

Article 192(1), in conjunction with Article 218(6)(a) TFEU; QMV

Department

Energy and Climate Change

Document Number

(37862), 10179/16 + ADDs 1–2, COM(16) 395

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

3.1Earlier this year, we drew to the attention of the House a draft Council Decision14 authorising the signature of the Paris Agreement on behalf of the EU. That signature, along with those of the EU Member States, took place on 22 April 2016, and this document would simply authorise the EU to ratify the Agreement, ratification by the Member States being a matter for each of them.

3.2The aim of this document is clear, and, since it follows naturally from the EU’s earlier decision to sign the Paris Agreement, it does not in itself give rise to any new policy issues (although we note that the Commission intends to put forward shortly measures which would enable the EU to fulfil its commitment to achieve a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030). In the meantime, we also note that officials are currently analysing the detailed implications of the proposal including any competence issues, and, in view of this, we think it would be sensible to hold it under scrutiny pending any further information from the Government. At the same time, it would be helpful if the Government could also indicate whether, in the light of the result of the recent referendum, it regards the UK as still being bound by the requirement on Member States to endeavour to deposit their instrument of ratification simultaneously with that of the EU and to notify the Commission.

Full details of the document

Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion on behalf of the European Union of the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: (37862), 10179/16 + ADDs 1–2, COM(16) 395.

Background

3.3On 21 July 2015, we drew to the attention of the House a Communication15 from the Commission setting out the steps which it believed the EU needed to take in advance of the conference to be held in Paris to reach a legally binding agreement on the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to limit the increase in global average temperatures. Following the Agreement reached in December 2015, we subsequently reported on 23 March 2016 a draft Council Decision authorising the signature of the Agreement on behalf of the EU, and both the EU and its Member States duly took part in a high-level signature ceremony in New York on 22 April 2016.

The current document

3.4The Paris Agreement is a mixed international agreement, and the EU and its individual Member States will each become parties in their own right, and complete their own ratification procedures. Consequently, this draft Council Decision simply addresses ratification by the EU, and does not specify a timetable for ratification by Member States, although it does require them to endeavour to take the steps needed to deposit their instruments of ratification simultaneously with that of the Union, and to inform the Commission of their ratification decisions (or the probable date on which they will complete the necessary procedures).

3.5In putting forward the draft Decision the Commission also recalls that, although the Council agreed in September 2015 that the EU and its Member States intended to act jointly under the Agreement, the action required has yet to be agreed, and it says that will be the subject of a package of measures which it intends to publish shortly.

The Government’s view

3.6In his Explanatory Memorandum of 13 July 2016, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth) notes that the document relates only to EU ratification, and says that officials are currently carefully analysing the proposal, during which they will consider any competence issues which may arise, alignment with international law, and the practical aspects of implementing the EU’s commitment to reduce its domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

Previous Committee Reports

None; but in respect of the signing of the Agreement see Twenty-seventh Report HC 342-xxvi (2015–16), chapter 7 (23 March 2016).


14 See (37557), 6742/16: Twenty-seventh Report HC 342-xxvi (2015–16), chapter 7 (23 March 2016).

15 See (36686), 6588/15: First Report HC 342-i (2015-16), chapter 45 (21 July 2015).




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25 July 2016