Czech Lower House embarks on fresh attempt to ratify Paris Climate Agreement

Czech Lower House, photo: Filip Jandourek

Czech MPs are once again seeking to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement in the wake of the G20 meeting in Hamburg. Environment minister Richard Brabec (ANO) says he hopes the process can be completed prior to upcoming parliamentary elections.

Czech Lower House, photo: Filip Jandourek
Concerns that the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, announced in June by President Donald Trump, would cripple the landmark climate deal proved to be unfounded as the remaining 19 members – including the European Union – signed a declaration in Hamburg last week that deal was “irreversible”. As a result, political leaders in the Czech Republic are to once again set to step up efforts to ratify the agreement.

The Paris Agreement is already in effect, having been formally ratified by a majority of polluting nations, and also the European Union. The Czech Republic added its signature to the agreement in 2016, but remains one of several dozen of the total 195 signatories to have failed to ratify it. Of EU nations, only Holland has also failed to undertake this task. The Czech Senate ratified the agreement in April of this year. Both the EU and its member states need to complete the ratification process, as each is responsible for implementing various aspects of the deal.

The only hurdle to Czech ratification remains the Lower House, where deputies have faced resistance in particular from the opposition Civic Democrats. Additionally, the Communists, and also individual MPs from parties otherwise in support of the agreement – such as Social Democrat MP Milan Urban – have also expressed scepticism. Certain organisations, such as the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic (SP ČR), have also lobbied against the agreement, arguing it might hurt economic growth. Four previous attempts to seek a vote on the agreement in the Lower House failed for procedural reasons, never moving past the debate stage.

Lubomír Zaorálek, photo: Filip Jandourek
On Tuesday, MPs are set to undertake a fifth attempt to ratify the Agreement. Social Democrat MP and foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek told Czech Television that he supports ratification:

“What we have signed up to in terms of renewable energies – when you take the mix we want to build, which includes nuclear power, classic sources, and renewable sources – then the commitments under the Paris Agreement are so loose, and give us so much flexibility, that we should have no problem meeting its obligations.”

But opponents of ratification – chiefly sixteen Civic Democrat MPs – are threatening a fresh round of obstruction, and say the debate is best left for the new parliament, which will be sworn in after elections, scheduled for the autumn. PM Bohuslav Sobotka and ANO environment minister Richard Brabec have reportedly been holding discussions on how to overcome any procedural obstacles unleashed by the opposition.