ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ratification Politics: Climate Change Is a Social Problem

Should India ratify the Paris Agreement when the United States does not consider it a treaty with legally binding commitments and the executive agreement can be easily reversed, as happened with the Kyoto Protocol? And, should India now take a strategic perspective to reframe international cooperation and focus on the carbon budget to allow for the convergence of standards of living?

At the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit both China and the United States (US) have handed their instruments of ratification to the United Nations, and the pressure will increase on India to ratify the Paris Agreement within 2016. There are, however, two significant differences between our situation and theirs. First, China and the US are the largest emitters accounting for 40% of global emissions; India accounts for a mere 4% and cannot be compared with them. Second, under US law, the form adopted means that the US does not consider the Paris Agreement a “treaty,” with legally binding commitments.1

The joint communique issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama says India has the “objective” to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2016). But the Whitehouse claimed and the US and European newspapers carried headlines that India had “committed” to ratification this year. The Prime Minister himself reiterated India’s commitment to “climate justice” and spoke about “a light carbon footprint” and the vision of a just world in his reference to climate change, which he has also linked to clean energy. On India’s insistence, “lifestyle changes” are a part of the G20 communique.

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