India ratifies historic Paris climate change pact

Smoke billowing from a factory chimney on the outskirts of New Delhi. India, the world's fastest-growing major economy, has long insisted that it needs to keep burning coal - a big cause of pollution - to cut crippling blackouts and bring electricity
Smoke billowing from a factory chimney on the outskirts of New Delhi. India, the world's fastest-growing major economy, has long insisted that it needs to keep burning coal - a big cause of pollution - to cut crippling blackouts and bring electricity to millions of its poor who are living without it.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

World's third-biggest carbon emitter signs accord on historic date - Gandhi's birthday

NEW DELHI • India, the world's third-biggest carbon emitter, has ratified the Paris agreement on climate change on the birthday of the country's famously ascetic independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi.

India, with a population of 1.3 billion people, is the latest big polluter to formally sign the historic accord, which now takes a major step towards becoming reality.

The accord, sealed last December in Paris, needs ratification from 55 countries that account for at least 55 per cent of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions responsible for causing the planet's temperatures to rise.

With India's move, a total of 62 countries accounting for almost 52 per cent of emissions have now ratified the agreement.

Indian officials handed over signed documents at the United Nations in New York yesterday.

"This was taken after a lot of deliberations and with a view to give the world a message... India is fast becoming a superpower," Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave told reporters in New Delhi ahead of the move.

  • 35 Percentage by which India says it will boost its use of green energy and reduce its emissions relative to its gross domestic product by 2030 from 2005 levels.

    100k Megawatts of solar power that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is targeting to reach by 2022, up from about 20,000 at the moment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced last month that Oct 2, a national holiday, had been chosen as the ratification date because freedom fighter Gandhi had lived his life with a low-carbon footprint.

UN chief Ban Ki Moon and others have voiced confidence that the accord will come into force by the end of the year after a string of countries joined up, including the United States and China, the two largest emitters.

Environment ministers from the European Union also agreed last Friday to fast-track the ratification.

The accord requires all countries to devise plans to achieve the goal of keeping the rise of temperatures to within 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels.

Environmentalists welcomed India's move yesterday but urged it to work to phase out coal, a big cause of pollution, which the country relies on heavily for electricity.

Mr Joydeep Gupta, director of The Third Pole, a website which focuses on environmental issues, said: "India is one of the very few large economies that has not made any promises of phasing out of coal.

"This government is good on renewable energy, but not good on environmental issues. There is a lot of pushing back on air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution."

India, the world's fastest-growing major economy, has long insisted that it needs to keep burning cheap and plentiful coal to cut crippling blackouts and bring electricity to millions of its poor who are living without it.

India, which accounts for 4.1 per cent of global emissions, has not agreed to cap or cut its emissions outright, like some countries.

Instead, it said it will boost its use of green energy and reduce its emissions relative to its gross domestic product by up to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels - meaning that emissions will continue to grow but at a slower rate.

Mr Modi has set the country an ambitious target of reaching 100,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022, up from about 20,000 at the moment.

Mr Modi and other leaders of developing nations argued in Paris last year that rich countries must shoulder the lion's share of responsibility for tackling climate change as they have polluted the most since the Industrial Revolution.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2016, with the headline 'India ratifies historic Paris climate change pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe