Possibility of Ratification: High
On 22nd April, India signed the Paris Agreement along with more than 170 nations. Then there was much hype surrounding India’s willingness to become a global leader in climate change mitigation actions, unlike the spoilsport role it played during Copenhagen summit in 2009. However, from the end of the Paris summit till now, the country has been constantly changing its position regarding how it plans to tackle the problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at its domestic front and contribute in this regard at the global level.
For long, India has been treading a dual path for dealing with climate change mitigation actions. On the one hand, it has tried to present itself as a leader of the developing world seeking for its right to pursue economic development for its vast majority of people who still survive on meager energy consumption, which falls well short of 4 tons of oil equivalent needed to achieve a Human Development Index (HDI). From this standpoint, India squarely puts the blame of presently deteriorating global climate conditions on the Developed World, which in the past carelessly exploited the climate for its selfish development interests. The INDC, which it has submitted to UNFCC, insinuates it seeks monetary assistance from the international community in order to diminish the costs it would incur for the implementation of climate-change mitigation plans.
While on the other hand, the country has tried to present itself as a responsible state player caring to take voluntary actions that are needed for addressing the global climate change issues. Its actions of being signatory to all major climate treaties, like Copenhagen Protocol etc, and taking practical actions to improve the share of clean energy in the country’s energy basket, like running the largest renewable capacity expansion programme in the world that aims to increase renewable energy production capacity to 175 GW by the end of 2022.
There is no specified procedure for ratification of international treaties under India’s municipal laws. Even the constitution of the country falls short of clarifying the status of international laws and their application within its sovereign territories. In the past, certain international treaties have been put to vote in the Parliament for securing majority consensus, like Land Border Agreement with Bangladesh, etc. However, the national executive (Central government) is under no obligation to have parliament’s approval at the stage of entering into an international treaty or with any foreign power. (See Article 73 of Indian Constitution)
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with the US President Barrack Obama said that the domestic legal procedures for accession relating to the agreement should be duly followed. However, he did not mention any specific time period by when the legalities in this regard will get completed. It is most likely the major fossil energy consuming industries, like cement, still, etc. will lobby to gain certain relaxation on the Agreement. While civil society organizations, especially those working in environment sector, and certain central government ministries, like Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as well as certain other government agencies, will try to push for ratification of the agreement without much delay. This dialectic will be further prevailed by some of the strategic considerations and interests of the Prime Minister’s office and the government’s core agenda, both political and economic.
Regardless of India’s reluctance to immediately accede to the Paris Agreement, it is most likely that the country will ratify it in the near-future for its own good and necessities.
Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Hriday Sarma