NEW YORK, New York, October 2, 2016 (ENS) – India today ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change at UN Headquarters in New York, bringing the treaty’s entry into force “tantalizingly” close, said UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson.
“The country is embarking on a sustainable development pathway. Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi calls it ‘development without destruction,’” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson after witnessing India becoming the 62nd country to deposit its ratification during a commemorative event on the International Day of Non-Violence.
India chose the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who led the country’s independence movement and pioneered the philosophy and strategy of non-violence, to join the climate accord.
“There is no better way to commemorate the great Mahatma Gandhi and his legacy of peace for people and planet,” said Eliasson.
The Agreement was adopted in Paris last December by the 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
It calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.
The Agreement will take effect 30 days after at least 55 countries, responsible for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification. The world’s top two polluters, China and the United States, have already formally joined the pact.
With today’s action by India, which accounts for 4.1 percent of the emissions, the Agreement needs just slightly more than three percentage points to reach the “55 percent” threshold. The “55 countries” requirement had already been met.
Thomson said Gandhi would have been delighted to learn of India’s ratification. “That this step, so full of hope and commitment, occurred on the anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi is especially fitting, given the Mahatma’s enduring ethical messages of humanism, environmentalism and pacifism.”
In a statement issued by his spokesman, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is visiting Switzerland, congratulated India for ratifying and formally joining the Agreement.
“India’s leadership builds on the continued strong political momentum from Paris for urgent global action on climate change,” Ban said.
European Union Prepares to Ratify
EU ministers have approved ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement by the European Union, bringing the international pact very close to entering into force.
The decision was reached Friday at an extraordinary meeting of the Environment Council in Brussels.
Once approved by the European Parliament next week, the EU will be able to deposit its ratification instrument before national ratification processes are completed in each of the 28, soon to be 27, Member States.
The European Parliament will vote on Tuesday to give its consent to the ratification of the Agreement by the European Union.
President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “Today’s decision shows that the European Union delivers on promises made. It demonstrates that the Member States can find common ground when it is clear that acting together, as part of the European Union, their impact is bigger than the mere sum of its parts.”
“I am happy to see that today the Member States decided to make history together and bring closer the entry into force of the first ever universally binding climate change agreement. We must and we can hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies. This is not a dream. This is a reality and it is within our reach. Today we are closer to it.”
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said, “It is just nine months since we adopted the Paris Agreement and less than six months since we signed it. But this short period showed that Paris is a real game changer in global climate politics.”
“They said Europe is too complicated to agree quickly,” said Cañete after the Council meeting. “They said we had too many hoops to jump through. They said we were all talk. Today’s decision shows what Europe is all about: unity and solidarity as Member States take a European approach, just as we did in Paris. We are reaching a critical period for decisive climate action. And when the going gets tough, Europe gets going.”
The EU, which played a decisive role in the adoption of the Paris Agreement last December, wants to be seen as a global leader on climate action.
The European Commission has already brought forward the main legislative proposals to deliver on the EU’s commitment to reduce emissions in the European Union by at least 40 percent by 2030.
The Environment Council’s approval will be forwarded to the European Parliament for its formal consent next week. Once Parliament has consented, the Council can formally adopt the Decision.
Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT) said, “I welcome the decision by environment ministers to allow for a timely EU ratification. This decision will permit Parliament to conclude the agreement and will send a strong signal and highlight the leadership of the EU and its Member States and their continuing efforts to address climate change at international level.”
“The prospect that the Paris Agreement might enter into force without the EU as a signatory, considering the EU’s leadership on the fight against climate change, its role in the Kyoto Protocol, and its continuous efforts towards a subsequent universal treaty, would have been unthinkable,” said La Via.
“At the same time,” he said, “Parliament is focusing its efforts on delivering the concrete policies that will enable us to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions – the reform of our carbon market, the recent proposals for curbing emissions from the building, transport and agriculture sectors.”
UN climate negotiations will continue at the annual Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change November 7-18 in Marrakesh, Morocco.