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China, US ratify Paris climate change accord, India likely to see pressure

world Updated: Sep 03, 2016 23:26 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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China ratified the Paris climate change agreement on Saturday ahead of the 11th G20 Summit. (AP File Photo)

India is likely to come under increasing international pressure on climate change after China and US ratified the Paris Agreement on the eve of the 11th G20 Summit, with Beijing reiterating its pledge to tackle the issue that is bringing about irreversible changes to the world’s environment.

“Just as I believe the Paris agreement will ultimately prove to be a turning point for our planet, I believe that history will judge today’s efforts as pivotal,” US President Obama said here after he and Chinese President Xi Jinping handed their respective ratified documents to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“We have a saying in America that you need to put your money where your mouth is. And when it comes to combating climate change, that’s what we’re doing. Both the United States and China, we’re leading by example,” Obama said.

Xi said the joint action “speaks to the shared ambition and resolve of China and the United States in addressing global issues.”

China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), had ratified the document on Saturday at its meeting in Beijing.

“Ratifying the agreement accords with China’s policy of actively dealing with climate change,” official news agency Xinhua quoted the proposal a saying, adding that addressing climate change would help the country realize sustainable development.

The ratification will “further advance China’s green, low-carbon development and safeguard environmental security,” it said.

Speaking to the Indian media on Saturday, Niti Ayog chairperson Arvind Panagariya, who is here for the Summit, said India is not expected to ratify the agreement any time soon.

“We are not yet sure when…we will not do it by 2016,” he said, adding that every country has its own domestic procedures to complete before ratifying international agreements.

“The most difficult contentious issue this time ended up being climate change. Ratification done by enough countries this year so that agreement comes into force this year. My stand is, we could not commit for 2016.”

On India’s insistence, “lifestyle changes” will be added in the joint communique at the end of the Summit, Panagaria said, pointing out that simple things like postponing switching on central heating in countries where it is used could contribute in tackling climate change.

The Xinhua report said: “Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, the special envoy of President Xi Jinping, signed the document and announced that China aimed to finalise domestic legal procedures to ratify the pact before the G20 summit in Hangzhou.”

China has committed to reduce its carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 60-65% by 2030 from 2005 levels, increase non-fossil fuel sources in primary energy consumption to about 20%, and peak its carbon emissions by 2030.

China and India had issued a joint statement during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country in May 2015, signaling a convergence of views on climate change and pressing developed countries to take the lead in the problem.

“The two sides urged the developed countries to raise their pre-2020 emission reduction targets and honour their commitment to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to developing countries,” the statement had said.

“China and India are undertaking ambitious actions domestically on combating climate change ... despite the enormous scale of their challenges in terms of social and economic development and poverty eradication,” it added.