Yesterday, Wednesday October 5, was a big day for the Paris Climate Agreement. With 10 countries and the European Union depositing instruments of ratification , the Agreement’s second key threshold for entry-into-force has now been satisfied. The 10 countries were Austria, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Nepal, Portugal and Slovakia. Per the UNFCCC website, the Agreement’s current total number of 74 parties now account for 58.82% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than the 55% threshold for entry-into-force under Article 21. (The first key threshold, 55 parties, was crossed a couple of weeks ago.)
Just as a point of general interest: for purposes of satisfying the entry-into-force threshold, the EU’s ratification does not count, though it was critical for allowing the EU member countries to ratify the Paris Agreement (here Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia). The simple reason for that is to avoid double-counting. At the same time, EU ratification of (and membership in) the Paris Agreement is necessary per the internal structure of the EU and the types of government authorities that have been transferred from the member states to the EU.
Crossing the second and final threshold also means that the 30-day countdown to the entry-into-force, i.e. the legal effectiveness of the treaty, has now been triggered. The Agreement’s provisions will become legally effective on November 4, just in time for the next scheduled international climate change meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, starting November 7 (referred to as COP 21 because it will also serve as the 21st annual meeting of the original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change parties).
And finally, it also means that the United States and all other current parties are now locked into the Paris Agreement for at least three years, starting November 4, 2016 (per Article 28). [Edit: As it was kindly pointed out by Steve Wolfson and others, Article 28.3 provides that withdrawal from the underlying UN Framework Convention on Climate Change automatically also withdraws a party from the Paris Agreement. (“Any Party that withdraws from the Convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from this Agreement.”) The Convention only has 1 year waiting period for withdrawal. Hence, using the Convention’s withdrawal process could allow a country to withdraw from the Paris Agreement within 1 year, rather than 3 years.]
Hip hip hooray for the Paris Agreement!