India ratifies historic Paris climate deal at U.N.

India ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by depositing the instrument of ratification with the United Nations on Sunday, the 147th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. A special event was organised to mark the occasion, also observed as the International Day of Nonviolence, at the UN headquarters.

India is the 62nd country to ratify the agreement. The agreement will enter into force one month after 55 countries that account for 55 percent of global emissions ratify the agreement. “With today's action by India, which accounts for 4.1 per cent of the emissions, the Agreement only needs slightly more than 3 percentage points to reach the 55 per cent threshold,” a UN statement said. At least 14 other countries, representing at least 12 per cent of global emissions, have committed to ratifying the pact before the end of the year.

Living through an age of triumphant industrial capitalism, Gandhi had warned of the dangers posed by the unbridled exploitation of natural resources. Speakers at the event recalled Gandhi’s vision that foresaw the pivotal role environment would occupy in development debates decades later.

“Looking back, many now regard him as an avid and early environmentalist. Encapsulating the whole idea of sustainable development more than seven decades ago he had said, “The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our fore fathers but on loan from our children. So we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us,” said Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the UN, after handing over the instrument. President of General Assembly Peter Thomson said Gandhiji would have applauded the UN efforts to make development sustainable and equitable. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said the message of nonviolence is as relevant today as it was during Gandhi’s lifetime and lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his commitment to environment.

A UN postal administration stamp to honour singer M.S. Subbulakshmi was also released during the function. Carnatic singer Sudha Raghunathan and team performed at the event. Dr. Subbulakshmi performed at the UN in 1966.

Mr. Modi’s announcement last month on India’s decision to ratify the agreement was a sudden turnaround from its earlier position that the domestic process was incomplete. To meet the national commitment made under the agreement, India has to implement an array of standards in its energy production and emission monitoring. India had also linked the ratification of the treaty to its admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Getting the agreement implemented is a key strategic objective that President Barack Obama has set for himself before he leave office in less than four months.

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