India, in a display of remarkable global leadership, has ratified the Paris global climate agreement.
The move, by a developing country still working hard to lift millions out of poverty with very low per capita emissions, shows that all members of the international community have a role to play in tackling climate change.
What’s more, India accounts for approximately 4.5% of global emissions, bringing the total emissions from parties to the Paris Agreement to about 51.76%–within striking distance of the 55% total needed for it to enter into force.
So far 62 countries, including India, have formally joined the treaty, exceeding the 55 parties needed for the climate agreement to commence.
It appears inevitable now that this 55% mark will be crossed this year, but a question remains when. If it happens by Oct. 7, according to the agreement, COP22 in Marrakesh would become the first meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement.
Last week the European Union made news by ratifying the agreement as a bloc, rather than waiting for its members to complete their domestic processes first. Together the countries would easily exceed the total emissions required, but they must individually complete the domestic ratifications first. Germany and France have already done that and together would cross the line.
Whenever it takes effect, India’s move is highly significant. It is a major emitter and tackling the climate crisis depends on the country of 1.3 billion engaging in solutions.
Under the deal, India committed to ensuring that at least 40% of its electricity will be generated from non-fossil sources by 2030.
India is already a global leader in solar energy. Earlier this year, it made plans to install 100 gigawatts of solar-based power online by 2022, a twenty-fold increase from current levels.
In the last decade India’s renewable energy capacity went from just under 4 GW to over 27 GW as of this month. Wind energy makes up about two-thirds of this total, with small hydropower contributing nearly 4 GW and biomass over 1 GW. One of the most profound such shifts in history.
By taking such big strides, India is backing up its political leadership with practical progress. Importantly, the ratification took place on Gandhi’s birthday. As President Obama Tweeted of the occasion, “Gandhiji believed in a world worthy of our children. In joining the Paris Agreement, @narendramodi & the Indian people carry on that legacy.”