Prime Minister Narendra Modi would ratify on October 2 the Paris Agreement on climate change thus making India one of the first 55 nations who will work towards combating climate change by starting a series of actions that will ensure a low carbon future.
So far, 60 nations including the world’s top polluters namely China and the US have ratified the agreement. But the agreement specifies that it will come into force thirty days after 55 countries representing 55 percent of the world’s total emissions accept the agreement.
These 60 countries who have signed the dotted line account for only 48 percent of the world’s emissions. But another fourteen more countries accounting for 12.58 per cent of global emissions are expected to sign up before the next COP 22 meet to be held in November.
India is responsible for 4.1% of the world’s greenhouse emissions but these are steadily rising. In order to implement this agreement, India will have to undertake strong and effective measures to cut down on emissions. It will also have to ramp up its solar power capacity 25 times and plant several million trees.
It is in this context that conservationist and forester Dr. MK Ranjisinh has pointed out, ` If we want to implement the Paris agreement in letter and spirit, we need to stop cutting our forests in the name of ` development’. It seems ironical that we do not hesitate to cut down millions of years of evolutionary resource like a forest and then spend millions of rupees in planting trees.’
India has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from the 2005 level. It will also need to install renewable or non-fossil fuel based energy of 40 per cent by 2030 and expand its solar energy and forest base.
For this India has emphasised that it wold need finance to the tune of $1000 billion as assistance from developed countries. Whether this will be forthcoming is going to prove a contentious issue in the future.
Greenpeace India questions how effectively this transformation to solar power will take place given that the government has set aside $50 billion to build 62 GW of coal power plants. Said a Greenpeace spokesperson, ` Already 31 GW of coal power plants are lying idle and stranded due to a lack of coal supply or because of lack of proper purchasing agreements with state discoms. The threat of excess coal power comes even as the sector has seen plant load factors drop to 62 percent in 2015-16.’
The Cabinet has given a green signal to the deal. The World Resource Institute has pointed out that India is among the countries that do not need the approval of Parliament to go ahead with it. China, on the other hand, needed both the executive approval as well as majority consent from its legislative body. Japan also needed the deal to be cleared from both legislature bodies while the US needed approval from both houses of Congress.
Ultimately, Modi will have to go to Parliament because implementing this agreement will need several tough laws to speed it through.
Though some climate experts caution that most of the rules and how these new rules will be implemented have still to be ` written down and spelled out.’Ratification will help India play an effective role in contribution to this entire ` rule-writing ‘ process.
The key issue in this deal is effective implementation and this is where India will need to come up with an effective implementation mechanism. The Paris agreement emphasises the need for regular subsequent meetings of all nations as also the creation of a regular reviewing methodology to ensure rules are being followed.
Besides India, other nations who have announced a decision to join the Paris Agreement through formal ratification this year include Austria, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand and Poland.