In a significant step towards bringing the Paris climate deal into force before the end of this year, US and China+ — the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases — on Saturday ratified the agreement which was approved by 195 countries, including India, in December last year.
The move has now turned the spotlight on India and the European Union who are yet to formally join the agreement. Though India, accounting for 4.1% of global emissions, is committed to ratify the pact, it seems to be wary of announcing just when it will sign the Paris agreement.
“There is no deadline to my mind but we will make submissions of progress,” said Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of Niti Aayog. “My stand is we could not commit for 2016,” said Panagariya, who is India’s Sherpa or negotiator at the G20 meeting.
Clarifying India’s position, another official said, “We are not yet ready. There are legal issues that need to be resolved and we do not expect it to be completed by end of 2016.” The pressure will, however, mount on India to clarify its stand, particularly in light of the rapport between Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama. The climate deal is an important initiative that Obama is keen to seal before he demits office. India has indicated that help with its application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group can persuade it to move faster on the climate pact.
The EU nations, accounting for 12.1% of global emissions on the other hand remain divided over the timing of their next joint move of ratification after exit of UK from the 28 member bloc.
The Paris agment will enter into force only after at least 55 countries, accounting for minimum 55 % of total global emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification. So far, 26 countries (accounting for 39% of the global emissions) have ratified the agreement.
The agreement is meant to limit global warming “well below” 2°C and to get as close to 1.5°C as possible, to increase economic and social ability to adapt to extreme climate and also to direct the scale and speed of global financial flows to match the required low carbon and climate-resilient development.
As many as 180 countries, including India, have signed this agreement+ . The ratification is the final step before it comes into force. US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping submitted their instruments of ratification to the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon ahead of the G-20 leaders summit at Hangzhou in China.
Urging the world leaders, particularly G-20 countries, to accelerate their domestic ratification processes, Ban Ki-moon in Hangzhou said, “We just need another 29 countries representing 16% of the global emissions to bring this Paris agreement into force. I am hopeful and optimistic that we can do it before the end of this year and before my term as secretary-general of the United Nations ends”. The new announcements by China and the United States come ahead of the next round of UN climate conference — known as COP22 — which is to be held in Marrakech, Morocco in November.
The UN secretary-general’s special event in New York on September 21 will offer further opportunity for remaining countries to join the Paris agreement.