Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on September 25 that India would ratify the Paris Agreement on October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, according to Jagran. The announcement came at the national council meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the majority party of India as well as Modi’s own party, in the city of Kozhikode, Kerala.
For their part in the Paris Agreement, the Indian government has set lofty goals. NDTV states that the government wants to reduce carbon emissions by 33 to 35 percent and base 40 percent of their total energy consumption on renewable resources by 2030.
As a developing country, the need for a balance of development and sustainability in India is particularly acute. Many question both the motivation behind ratifying the Paris Agreements as well as how beneficial the ratification will actually be in India.
In an online opinion piece posted on Ideas for India, Milind Kandlikar illustrates how this struggle for balance makes the requirements of the Paris Agreement unrealistic. Indian reliance on coal is still strong and, even with this coal dependence, outages are common and many members of the population do not have access to electricity. Kandlikar makes the point that, without a sufficient energy supply, development will be much more difficult. At the same time, though, those who would benefit most from development are also those who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The Hindu reports that Modi’s decision to ratify the Paris Agreement was officially explained as logical because of the support of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, the president of Bharatiya Jana Sangh and a predecessor party to the BJP. Many critics, however, are unconvinced of his reasoning. According to another article by NDTV, the Communist Party of India-Marxist declared that this decision will hurt India and went so far as to declare that this move “is a clear indication that India is becoming a supplicant of US global strategic interests.”
An article from The Economic Times suggested that India’s desire to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group influenced their decision to ratify the Paris Agreement. India strives to be recognized as a global nuclear power and has hinted at linking their ratification to their membership in the NSG.
By ratifying the Paris Agreement, India will get a seat in the conference comprised of 55 countries that produce at least 55 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, giving them more influence in future global climate change measures. Currently, 60 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, but their combined carbon emissions only account for 48 percent of global carbon emissions, according to NDTV.