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Cabinet clears ratification of Paris climate deal, opposes capping emissions from aviation sector

NEW DELHI,NIKHIL M GHANEKAR : The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared ratification of the historic Paris climate agreement fulfilling the first and most important domestic step in ratification of the deal. The cabinet approval comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Kozhikode on Sunday that India will ratify the deal on Gandhi Jayanti, October 2.

Briefing the press here on Wednesday union minister for human resources and development Prakash Javadekar said, “India has been a big player in climate negotiations and with the ratification, India will be playing decisive part in bring the Paris agreement into force. India’s push will help the deal’s ratification soon and it will become irreversible course of action for humankind. It is a common resolve to keep the temperature rise below two degree Celsius.”

The Paris deal will come into effect in post-2020 and will be enforced after at least 55 countries, that contribute to 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, officially ratify it. So far, 61 countries, accounting for 48% of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified the deal. With India ratifying the deal on October 2, the numbers will go up to 51% as India accounts for 4.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, pushing the Paris deal closer to coming into effect. The European Union, which accounts for 12.10% of global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to join the deal in the first week of October, taking the Paris deal beyond the 55% global emissions threshold.

Following cabinet clearance, India will now have to deposit the legal instrument of ratification at the United Nations Headquarters legally join the deal. “Since October 2 is a Sunday, we have already requested the United Nations to keep its office open so that we can complete the remaining legal procedures,” Javadekar added.

India’s decision to ratify the Paris deal before the next UN climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco, was a climb down from its earlier stand where it had indicated that it will not join the deal before 2016. It had hedged ratification of the deal to leverage a seat in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. But, with strong indications that the European Union is set to join the deal in October, India seems to have changed its position to avoid getting left behind in the deal’s ratification on time. When dna asked Javadekar about the change in India’s stance, he said, “We had never declared a specific date for ratification of the Paris deal.”

During Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, it was also decided that India will oppose the International Civil Aviation Oragnization (ICAO)’s proposal for carbon emission tax on the civil aviation sector. The ICAO is currently meeting in Montreal to reach a deal on capping emissions from the aviation sector. “During the Brazil, South Africa, India, China (BASIC) meeting earlier this year, we had reached a conclusion being developing economies, capping emissions from the aviation sector won’t be appropriate.” The global aviation industry accounts for 2% of carbon emissions globally.

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