Gathering of 175 leaders in New York marks first step towards binding countries to pledges they made to cut emissions.
India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, will formally join the Paris agreement on climate change on October 2, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.
The ratification by India – which follows that of the United States and China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters – will help accelerate the enactment of the landmark Paris agreement on climate change forged last December.
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“Now the time has come to ratify the COP21 protocol. India will do it on Gandhi Jayanti, on October 2,” Modi said, referring to the anniversary of the birth of Gandhi, viewed by many as the father of modern India.
Modi said that he chose Gandhi’s birthday as he gave an example of how to live with a low-carbon footprint.
COP21 refers to the Conference of Parties protocol that commits both rich and poor nations to rein in rising carbon levels and aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.
The main goal of the deal is to slash greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature increases to “well below” two degrees Celsius.
Experts have said that target is already in danger of being breached, with the UN weather agency saying that 2016 is on course to be the warmest year since records began.
Only 25 signatories have ratified the protocol. For the climate accord to go into legal effect, however, at least 55 countries need to sign on.
The Paris agreement was signed in December 2015 by nearly 200 countries. Scientists have warned that dangerous effects of climate change could include severe flooding, heatwaves and drought, as well as mass species’ extinction.