Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Sunday that the country will ratify the Paris Agreement early next month, giving the climate pact a major boost needed to go into effect this year.
Modi made the announcement at the Bharatiya Janata Party council meet, local outlets The Times of India and The New Indian Express reported. He said India will sign the agreement on Oct. 2, which is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.
As a major player in the global economy and the world’s third-largest carbon polluter ― behind China and the United States ― India’s participation is critical to putting the agreement into action. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz hailed Modi’s announcement as a “major milestone” on Sunday.
For the carbon-cutting rules set forth in the agreement to go into effect, it must be ratified by at least 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of the world’s emissions. Sixty-one countries have already fulfilled the first condition, according the World Resources Institute’s tracker, but they account for only 47.79 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Yet the agreement’s officiation is imminent: India signing on increases the percentage to 51.89, and another 13 countries have promised to ratify it by the end of the year.
Many people viewed India as a hostile participant because officials were vocal at the start of the Paris talks, insisting that the country prioritized getting its citizens out of poverty and bringing electricity to the 20 percent of its population living without it over cutting emissions.
“India was, without question, in the villain category when the talks began,”
Bhaskar Chakravorti, the founding executive director at the Institute for Business in the Global Context, wrote in an op-ed last year. “By the time the talks concluded, India was deemed to be critical yet constructive, particularly in getting through language such as a commitment by the developed world to subsidise the developing world by more than $100 billion a year.”