India Ratifies Paris Climate Agreement, Bringing World Closer To A Binding Deal

As one of the fastest developing nations, it was critical to get India to ratify the deal. AsiaTravel/Shutterstock

Inching ever closer, the Paris climate agreement is within striking distance of coming into force. India has just ratified the deal, while the European Union has announced it too will do the same. This means that while there are now the sufficient number of countries signed up, all it is waiting on is enough nations to represent just over half of all greenhouse gas emissions, which could occur by Wednesday.

India has now become the 62nd nation to ratify the climate deal, which currently totals 51.89 percent of all global emissions. This is tantalizingly close to the target needed for the deal to come into force, which states that 55 countries representing 55 percent of emissions need to ratify. It seems that what was once thought to be entirely inconceivable – that the world’s governments will come together to agree to limit emissions and tackle climate change – might actually happen before the end of this week.

The move by India was timed to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth 147 years ago. As one of the fastest-growing developing nations, India's involvement is quite significant in limiting future emissions in a country that currently has 1.2 billion inhabitants. “Today the government of India has demonstrated global leadership and vision by joining the Paris agreement on climate change,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “This historic step will further India’s sustainable path to growth and development.”

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The news follows the recent announcement by the European Union (EU), which now represents 27 nations, and accounts for around 10 percent of global carbon emissions. It is expected to officially ratify the deal in the next few weeks, and when it does so, it may well mean that the magic 55 percent of global emissions is breached. This would trigger the Paris climate deal to legally come into force.  

“They said Europe is too complicated to agree quickly,” said the EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, when the EU made its announcement. “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.”

While it is now widely agreed that even if the world were to bring the climate deal into force, and then stick to the commitments enshrined in the agreement, we will miss the target of limiting global warming to within 2°C (3.6°F), it would still be a major milestone by any event. It will also be laying groundwork for future deals to build on it and further action taken to help prevent widescale climate change. 

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