With India's seal of approval, climate change deal on the brink of becoming binding

India ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the United Nations on Sunday, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth. India accounts for about 4.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Anupam Nath/AP
A girl collects recyclable material at a garbage dumping site on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Sunday.

The fight against global climate change is gaining steam as more nations move to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

India, a nation that contributes about 4.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, ratified the 2015 agreement Sunday at the United Nations, according to officials. 

This comes on the heels of the European Union's announcement on Friday that all 28 member states had agreed to fast-track ratification of the Paris accord, a move that would push the agreement over the threshold required for ratification. 

The Paris Agreement comes into full force when 55 nations representing 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions ratify it. With India's addition, 62 countries have moved to ratify the agreement, accounting for about 52 percent of global emissions. 

The EU accounts for about 12 percent of global emissions. If Friday's decision is approved by the European Parliament in a vote on Oct. 4 and endorsed by ministers afterwards, the Paris accord will go into effect.

In December, 185 countries adopted the Paris agreement with the aim of shifting away from fossil fuels to halt global climate change before temperatures rise two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F.) above preindustrial levels. The measure calls for governments of rich and poor countries alike to come up with national plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

India has committed to shifting away from fossil fuel sources, with the goal of generating at least 40 percent of its electricity with other sources by 2030. This includes 175-gigawatt renewable energy capacity by 2022.

"[India] has one of the boldest renewable energy targets in the world, making it destined to be a major player in solar and wind markets," Manish Bapna, executive vice president and managing director of the World Resources Institute, told the Associated Press.

India's UN Ambassador, Syed Akbaruddin, presented the official ratification documents to the UN Treaty Section Chief, Santiago Villalpando, at the UN headquarters in New York on Sunday, according to officials from India's UN Mission. The ratification coincided with the birthday of India's independence leader Mohandas Gandhi.

"India's leadership builds on the continued strong political momentum from Paris for urgent global action on climate change," the UN spokesman's office said in a statement.

The efforts India has now committed to will not be an easy financial feat for the nation. Officials say the plan will require more than $2.5 trillion to meet all the goals set. This, the officials say, will require monetary support and discounts on new technology from other countries.

When the Paris accord threshold is reached, it will formally go into force after 30 days. If the EU ratifies the agreement this week, that would put the accord in place ahead of the next round of climate talks set for November in Marrakech, Morocco.

European Council President Donald Tusk, whose home country of Poland had been the main EU state resisting such a swift accord, tweeted Friday, "What some believed impossible is now real."

This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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