Pro-coal Poland approves climate deal

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland signed up to the Paris climate agreement on Thursday, ending doubts that the coal-dependent nation might defy other European Union members that have endorsed the shift away from fossil fuels.

The Paris agreement is due come into effect on Nov. 4 after clearing a final hurdle on Wednesday when seven EU countries signed up. U.S. President Barack Obama called it a “historic day” and a potential “turning point” in protecting the planet.

Poland, whose economy is heavily dependent on coal, has often been the least enthusiastic of EU nations in climate policies, fearing it will face big costs, but has come round to support the Paris agreement.

On Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the ratification bill for the climate deal, after 402 lawmakers voted in favor in parliament earlier in the day, versus just 36 who voted against.

“We are very happy that the majority of MPs has acceded to our proposal. We hope for a smooth completion of the legislative process,” the environment ministry’s spokesman said.

The Paris accord, signed by almost 200 nations in December, aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times.

EU nations Germany, France, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Malta formally joined up on Wednesday, adding to major emitters led by China and the United States.

The EU ratifications pushed support for the pact to nations representing 58.82 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, above a threshold for entry into force of 55 percent.

In total, 73 countries out of 195 have ratified the agreement, according to the U.N. website.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Pawel Sobczak; Editing by Susan Fenton