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A perfect landing

PUBLISHED ON SEP 27, 2016 08:16 AM IST

After four years of talks, the representatives from 195 countries created history in Paris in December 2015 by agreeing to a comprehensive climate change deal. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at Kozhikode, in Kerala, that India would ratify that agreement on October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Earlier this month, the United States and China, the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, announced they will formally ratify the agreement. Sam Geall, the executive editor of China Dialogue, a bilingual website dedicated to environmental issues, said the announcement underscored how Beijing and Washington had managed to find common ground on climate change. Last week, the European Union too announced that it would collectively ratify the deal before November.

India, which, along with the US and China, is among the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, has always maintained that the burden of fighting climate change cannot be put on the shoulders of the poor after decades of industrial development by the rich nations. But the ratification of the deal by Washington and Beijing put the pressure back on New Delhi, which was delaying the endorsement of the deal because India linked it to securing a membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an elite club of countries dealing with trade in nuclear technologies and fissile materials. During the recent G20 summit in Hangzhou, in China, India said it would not be able to commit to the deal before the end of 2016 due to “domestic procedures”.

This stand became a difficult proposition to sell to other governments because the country’s emission reduction commitments under the Paris agreement do not require a substantial increase of nuclear power in the future energy mix. Though many may see India’s decision to ratify the crucial deal as a flip-flop — and it is indeed so — at least it has ended in a positive manner.

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