In boost to Paris climate pact, India says it aims to join this year

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) arrives at the West Wing of the White House as he is greeted by US chief of protocol Peter Selfridge (L) June 7, 2016 in Washington. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Washington Jun 08, 2016, 09.37 AM (IST)

India has agreed to work towards joining the Paris Agreement on climate change this year, India and the United States said on Tuesday, pushing the international fight to curb global warming ahead.

President Barack Obama welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House for their seventh meeting since Modi took office in 2014, underscoring the warm relationship between the leaders and the world's two largest democracies. 

"We discussed how we can, as quickly as possible, bring the Paris Agreement into force," Obama said. Climate change is a legacy issue for the US president who leaves office in January.India's potential entrance into the agreement this year would help accelerate its enactment, perhaps years ahead of schedule. India is the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States.

Obama and Modi agreed to work together on an "ambitious" amendment to an international pact known as the Montreal Protocol to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas.

The two countries said India would take steps to join the Paris agreement this year.

"India and the United States recognise the urgency of climate change and share the goal of enabling entry into force of the Paris Agreement as early as possible," the joint statement said.

"The United States reaffirms its commitment to join the agreement as soon as possible this year. India similarly has begun its processes to work toward this shared objective."

The agreement, forged in 2015, will take effect when at least 55 countries representing 55 per cent of global emissions ratify it. By late last month 17 small countries had ratified it, according to the United Nations, and many others including the United States and China have pledged to do so in 2016.

Environmental groups had hoped Modi would say that India was ready to ratify the agreement during his Washington trip.

“With India now on board, a growing chorus of countries are seeking to bring the Paris Agreement into full effect as soon as possible," said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute.