New Delhi: As many as 175 countries, including India, China and the US, signed the Paris Agreement on climate change at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday, to coincide with ‘International Mother Earth Day’.
This was the first day of the signing ceremony of the historic global deal.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar signed the agreement on behalf of India. The agreement aims to take multiple measures to save the world from disastrous consequences of climate change and was adopted by 195 countries in Paris on December 12, 2015.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and some heads of state and government, including French President Francis Hollande addressed the gathering.
Also on the list of speakers was Mahindra Group chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra, as a representative of the business and corporate world.
That such a large number of countries signed the agreement in a single day is significant. The previous record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on one day was set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the ‘Law of the Sea Convention’.
The agreement will be open for signature for one year – till April 21, 2017. However, merely signing the agreement will not make it operational. At least 55 countries, that account for an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions will have to ratify the agreement before it enters into force.
Only 15 countries – mostly small island nations – on Friday submitted their instruments of ratification, indicating a long road ahead before the Paris Agreement becomes operational.
France, the first country that signed the agreement on Friday, promised to ratify it by this summer, while the biggest polluter, China, announced to do it before the G20 summit in September in Hangzhou. China’s move may encourage other G20 members, including the US and India, to quickly join the agreement by ratifying it. US secretary of state John Kerry, while addressing the gathering, announced that his country is looking to join the agreement this year.
India has so far not indicated when it would ratify it.