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Environment minister Anil Madhav Dave. Photo: Hindustan Times
Environment minister Anil Madhav Dave. Photo: Hindustan Times

India becomes 62nd country to ratify Paris climate accord

With India ratifying the agreement, 62 countries accounting for 51.89% of the global greenhouse gas emissions have joined the Paris agreement

India on Sunday became the 62nd country—and among the most important yet—to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement after it submitted the required papers to the UN, taking the world a step closer to a possibly cleaner future.

As planned, India’s ratification, a globally significant event, came on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. India submitted its voluntary action plan to cut carbon emissions on the same day last year.

“At 19:50 hrs IST today on Gandhi Jayanti, India deposited its Instrument of Ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the @UN," environment minister Anil Madhav Dave tweeted.

According to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), India accounts for 4.1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. With India ratifying the agreement, 62 countries accounting for 51.89% of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have joined the agreement.

The historic Paris Agreement, which was agreed by 197 nations last year, comes into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 parties to the convention, accounting for at least 55% of total GHG emissions, submit their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval.

India’s move comes ahead of the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 7-18 November. The host of COP22 hopes the 55% target would be achieved before the climate change conference starts.

“Ratification by India will help generate the political momentum necessary to bring the amendment in force," said the environment ministry, in an official statement put out on Sunday.

“India’s decision to ratify the Paris agreement has come after ensuring compliance of domestic legal requirements, internal discussions and after obtaining clarity from UNFCCC with regard to transparency and participation of parties in the future processes. Countries have been assured by UNFCCC that other parties will be given sufficient time to ratify the Paris Agreement, at least till 2018, so that future decision-making is as inclusive as possible. India through its participation in the Paris Agreement, under the UNFCCC process, will articulate the interests of the poor and vulnerable groups," the statement added.

Dave said in Morocco, India will raise issues related to finance and technology transfer from developed nations to developing nations—a long standing Indian demand.

Environmentalists welcomed the fact that India had come out as an early mover in the ratification process and said the country should now play an important role in ensuring its implementation.

“By being in the club of early ratifiers, India has shown itself as a responsible and serious global player in climate talks. But ratification is just the beginning of tough and difficult negotiations ahead. India will have to pay an important role in making the agreement effective and equitable," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Centre for Science and Environment, a think tank.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last month India’s ratification was the best possible tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who lived an austere life that left a minimum carbon footprint.

“The rule book for implementation of the Paris Agreement is yet to negotiated. India should play an important role in issues of adaptation, finance and loss and damage in the upcoming climate talks in Marrakech as these issues are important for the poor and vulnerable population of the country," Bhushan added.

CSE also said that India is already experiencing the impacts of climate change -- like extreme weather events, frequent droughts and floods -- when the temperature rise is about 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels.

“A 2.0°C warmer world would be devastation for the water and agriculture sector and would keep millions of people in the poverty trap," the NGO said.

Earlier this week on Wednesday, the union cabinet approved the ratification of the Paris agreement.

In its voluntary action plan submitted to UNFCCC to tackle climate change, India has committed itself to reducing the emissions intensity of its gross domestic product by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels, and generate 40% of its cumulative electric power from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources.

Parties to the Paris accord committed themselves to limiting global warming to well below 2°Cabove pre-industrial levels.

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