The landmark Paris climate change treaty moved ahead Tuesday after backing from the European Parliament, which paved the way for the 28-member European Union to ratify it this week.
The European Parliament's vote in Strasbourg, France, amounts to the tipping point for the Paris climate treaty. The pact has already been approved by some of the world's biggest greenhouse emitters, including the United States, China and India. Now, European Union nations will follow, pushing it over the threshold of 55 countries emitting 55 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions for it to take effect.
The vote got a last-minute push from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"As members of the European Union, your countries have demonstrated time and again that you not only recognize the seriousness of this threat, but you are also ready to seize the opportunities it brings to build more stable, competitive economies and stable and healthier societies," he said.
For the EU, shaken by divisions over migration and Britain's vote to exit the bloc, it was a rare moment of unity and triumph.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the move showed Europe was capable of big things when it pulls together, and that the EU should be proud of what it has accomplished.
Under the climate deal reached in Paris last December, countries aim to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times. Some scientists warn that the deal will not be enough to keep temperatures from reaching dangerous levels.