United Kingdom Ratification Status

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Possibility of Ratification by 2018: Medium

The UK has not yet ratified the Paris Agreement and was until recently, set to do “as soon as possible” along with the rest of the EU and its member states. This was supposed to be done after the negotiations on effort sharing were completed. Ratification of treaties in the UK is done by the government, which is also known as the executive. The parliament plays a rather informal role in making treaties. However, where a change in legislation is required, parliament vote on whether or not to ratify the treaty. If parliament decides against ratifying the treaty, then the UK cannot legally ratify it.

The Paris Agreement is in a sense an endorsement of the UK Climate Change Act that was put in place in 2008 and it had hopes to enshrine the zero emissions into their law after getting an understanding of the implications of the agreement. However, the UK’s exit from the EU has brought with it a lot of uncertainties as to whether the UK will still proceed with meeting its pledge to towards the Paris Agreement. Some parties have expressed optimism and feel that the UK’s exit should not have much impact on its fight against climate change and its position concerning the Paris Agreement. With the resignation of David Cameron, the decision on whether to ratify the Paris Agreement lies in the hands of the next Prime Minister unless the current government ratifies it as a “matter of urgency”. If Britain were to ratify the agreement urgently, it is “..likely to prompt an outcry from sections of the pro-Brexit right, prominent members of which are also climate change sceptics.”

If the UK continues to be part of the Paris Agreement, it would have to decide what its contribution to emission cuts would be, based on the Climate Change Act. The UK is already legally bound by its Climate Change Act to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050, but they had intended to increase the target to zero net emissions in accordance with the Paris agreement. It remains to be seen what the future of the UK will be in the Paris Agreement and in the fight against climate change.

Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Fridah Syango-Tembo

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