NEW DELHI: The Centre has given its approval to ratify the Paris agreement on climate change, a move that will bring the global deal into force early November. But it has toughened its stand on negotiations to cap emissions by the aviation sector, making it clear that India will not commit to reducing emissions in the sector by 2020 as it will be an "injustice" to the country's growingeconomy. Though the issue of emission cap in civil aviation is not covered under the Paris deal, the proposal is being discussed in an ongoing assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal to cut carbon footprints of airlines.
The proposal includes a mechanism for `carbon emission tax' on airlines to offset emissions in the sector.
Developing countries, including India, believe the market-based taxation regime to offset emission will impose inappropriate economic burden on them.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) assembly is expected to adopt the first-ever global market-based measure (GMBM) by any industry sector covering CO2 emissions from international activity. India will, however, not join such market-based measures at this juncture.
The country would rather bargain for more flexibility on the proposed GMBM where it, along with other developing countries, remains outside the mechanism to cap emissions in the civil aviation sector for the next few years.
India's position on this issue was approved by the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which on Wednesday also gave its approval to ratify the Paris Agreement and submit its instrument of ratification to the UN on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
"There is an attempt to bring a cap on emissions in the civil aviation (sector) by 2020. We said that for the developing world the proposal is unfair. When it (economy) is growing, you cannot cap our emissions from aviation... A cap by 2020 will be an injustice," Union human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar said, briefing the media on the Cabinet's decision.
The former environment minister, however, asserted that India was committed to reducing emissions in the aviation sector over a longer period of time but it would not be part of the proposed GMBM being discussed at the ongoing ICAO assembly in Montreal.
Noting that such a mechanism cannot be put in place within a short period of time for countries where manufacturing has to improve and more fuel efficiency has to be brought in, Javadekar said, "There are more scientific ways to deal with it. We have not reached the stage of the developed world... We cannot put a stop to our growth and therefore we have decided to put India's viewpoints very strongly ."
On the Paris Agreement, which was signed by him as the then environment minister in April, Javadekar said, "With the ratification, India will be one of the key countries instrumental in bringing the Paris Agreement into force."
He said though the UN secretariat is closed on weekends, it would remain open specifically to allow India ratify the deal on October 2 (Sunday).
The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries, including India, in December last year. It has, so far, been signed by as many as 191 countries. The ratification is the final step for bringing it into force.
Since the European Union (28 nations including the UK), accounting for 12.10% of the total global emission of greenhouse gases, has decided to submit its instrument of ratification before October 7, it is now certain that the Paris Agreement will come into force with India on board at the time of the next UN climate conference (COP22) which is scheduled to be held in Marrakech, Morocco, from No vember 7 to 18.
The environment ministers of EU nations will meet on September 30 to take a call on the exact date they will submit their joint instrument of ratification.
France had ratified Paris Agreement on June 15 and was the first G20 countries to do so.
German Parliament had last week approved the country's ratification to the Paris Agreement. Both France and Germany are also expected to submit their respective instruments of ratification individually before October 7.
Though national ratification has already crossed the threshold of 55 countries, it so far only accounts for 47.79% of global emissions. India, which accounts for 4.1% of global emissions, will bring it closer to the emission threshold of 55%.
The Paris Agreement calls on countries to take actions post-2020 to combat climate change and intensify their efforts needed for a sustainable low carbon future. It is meant to limit global warming "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible to increase economic ability to adapt to extreme climate.
The countries' pre-2020 actions to fight the menace of climate change is currently being covered by the Kyoto Protocol.
Once the Paris Agreement comes into force in November, the countries, including India, will engage themselves in framing rules for its implementation.