Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will formally ratify the Paris climate agreement on October 2nd, the anniversary of the birth of national hero Mahatma Ghandi.
India’s ratification would represent a significant step closer to the target of 55 countries representing 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions that is required in order for the agreement to officially come into effect.
So far, 61 countries representing 47.81% of global emissions have ratified the agreement, including the world’s largest emitters, China and the USA. India, being responsible for 4.10% of the global emissions, would push the total percentage up to 41.9% with their ratification.
Speaking in Kerala on Sunday, Modi impressed the importance of ramping up efforts in the battle against climate change: “The world is today worried about climate change, global warming, and natural disasters… Human race has only now realised the disastrous impact of our material development on the nature.”
He went on: “There is one thing left for the COP21.Ratification is yet to be done and India too is yet to do it. Today on the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, I announce that India will ratify the decisions on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.”
Following India’s ratification, if Japan, for example, who represent 3.79% of global emissions, make good on their plan to ratify by the end of the year, this would bring us 0.11% away from the target. This would comfortably be reached if every country who has signalled an intention to ratify by the end of 2016 does so.
Another major step will be the ratification of the European Union and its member states. The EU has been discussing the viability of ratifying the agreement as a single bloc, rather than having each member state do so individually. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has already expressed his impatience with the time it is taking the EU to reach a decision either way and to deliver instruments of ratification. He said, earlier this month: “We were climate change pioneers in Paris. Dragging our feet on ratification affects our credibility and makes us look ridiculous”. The EU’s member countries are collectively responsible for around 12% of the world’s emissions and if ratification were to be fast-tracked by the bloc, all of this would count towards the total needed to reach the overall emission threshold, though only countries who have formally ratified individually would be counted towards the 55 country threshold.
French president Francois Hollande spoke at an informal EU summit earlier in September, saying that the EU was effectively ready to ratify within the next month. He said: “Not only will the European Parliament vote in October; now all members of the European Union stand ready to ratify the accord as soon as possible.”
Separately and more recently, EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic has said that a final decision on fast tracked ratification is likely to be reached this week. A meeting is set to take place in Brussels on 30th September to discuss the viability of fast tracking, and Sefcovic has said that he believes that “a responsible approach will prevail”.
“The EU has been a leader in the fight against climate change,” he went on, “so it would be strange if we are not at the table at the moment when the agreement kicks off.”