The Paris Agreement goes into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting for at least an estimated 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the United Nations Depositary. Currently, 61 Parties have ratified, accounting for 47.79 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.[i] China and the United States have ratified (although the United States has not gotten approval from the Senate), but Russia, the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has not. And India, the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, intends to ratify next month.[ii] That said, however, there is no enforcement mechanism in the agreement, so there is no way to force non-complying countries to comply.
India is the world’s second-largest country by population after China. It makes up 4.1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Those emissions are likely to increase as its working-age population is expected to increase by 220 million over the next 20 years and its economy is expected to expand at around 8 percent per year through 2021. To fuel its economy and its population, India is using fossil fuels.[iii]
India’s crude oil demand is growing by 350,000 barrels a day this year, higher than that of China. India imports about 75 percent of its oil[iv]; it is now the third largest importer of oil, surpassing Japan. Its gasoline demand increased 14 percent this year and should continue to increase at double-digit rates as car and motorcycle purchases continue to increase. Through 2040, India is expected to make up almost half of the world’s oil demand growth.
India’s coal demand is expected to increase between 6 percent and 8 percent per year through 2020 as the country continues to electrify rural areas without electricity. With the world’s fifth highest coal reserves (62 billion short tons), India’s coal production is expected to increase at an even faster rate, reducing its coal imports for electricity generation. However, to satisfy coal demand for its steel industry, India will need to increase its metallurgical coal imports.
Despite India’s need for oil and coal, Prime Minister Modi indicated that it will ratify the Paris Agreement on October 2, 2016. Some in India believe that the announcement to ratify “is a clear indication that India is becoming a supplicant of US global strategic interests and has committed this volte face surrendering to U.S. pressure, bartering away India’s much needed energy requirements.”[v]
India’s plan is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 33 to 35 percent from the levels on 2005 by 2030. India also intends to produce around 40 percent of its electricity in 2030 from renewable sources such as solar, wind or hydropower. And, it has offered to rapidly increase its forest cover so that an additional carbon sink of about 2.5 to 3 billion metric tons is created by 2030. To achieve these targets, the Environment Ministry created working groups to suggest new policies or legislation to help achieve the targets. The recommendations are not likely to be completed by the end of this year.[vi]
Like India, Russia is also a heavy user of fossil fuels. But unlike India, Vladimir Putin “will not artificially speed up the ratification process.” Russian representatives said they need more time to evaluate the effects of the Paris agreement on the Russian economy. The government intends to draft a low-carbon development strategy before deciding whether to ratify. The plan is to analyze the socio-economic effects of ratification by mid-December, and to draft a strategy for low-carbon development later. No deadline has been set for ratification, which requires passage of a corresponding legal act.[vii]
Russia is hesitant to ratify because there is opposition from large private businesses, mainly the coal and steel industries. The companies, whose facilities are mainly located in Siberia, believe that quick ratification and a carbon tax will cause serious socio-economic damage. Critics of the agreement argue that the Russian economy will suffer severe losses after the agreement enters into force.
Another barrier to ratification is that Russia lacks the funding needed to undertake emissions reductions. For example, energy efficiency measures proposed would require an annual investment of at least €6 billion ($6.7 billion). Between 2009 and 2011, Russia was planning to undertake energy efficiency measures, but curtailed the effort when international sanctions were imposed over the conflict in Ukraine. Regional subsidies for emission reduction and energy efficiency measures have been cut to zero for the third year in a row. Due to the international sanctions, Russia also lacks access to international financing sources for emission reduction projects.
Russia emits 7.53 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. As a major emitter, the political powers would like a seat at the table, so Russia continues to speak in favor of the Paris agreement on the world stage, trying to show its openness to climate efforts. By showing its readiness to fight climate and environmental challenges, Russia is trying to set itself up as an important global player and improve its relations with the West. It is also trying to develop climate and environmental cooperation with Brazil, India, China and South Africa, proposing to set up a platform for green technologies.
With India ratifying the Paris agreement on October 2, there will be 62 Parties ratifying the agreement, accounting for 51.89 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If Russia ratifies, the agreement can be put into force since the coverage of emissions will then exceed the 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions necessary to proceed. Should that happen or should the 55 percent be reached by other country ratification, the significance of the U.S. ratification will become a major factor as the U.S. Senate has not ratified the agreement.
[ii] Climate Analytics, Paris Agreement Ratification Tracker, September 26, 2016, http://climateanalytics.org/hot-topics/ratification-tracker.html
[iii] Bloomberg, India Growing 8% a Year Seen by Citi Helping Oil, Gold Demand, September 26, 2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-26/india-growing-8-a-year-seen-by-citi-helping-oil-gold-demand
[iv] Wall Street journal, India Approves $3 Billion Stake Purchase in Russian Oil Fields, September 28, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/india-approves-3-billion-stake-purchase-in-russian-oil-fields-1475054404
[v] NDTV, Ratification of Paris Agreement Will Hurt India, September 27, 2016, http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/ratification-of-paris-agreement-will-hurt-india-cpi-m-1467135
[vi] The Indian Express, India to ratify Paris treaty: What this means for the country, September 27, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/paris-climate-deal-a-shift-in-position-by-india/
[vii] UPI, What’s holding Russia back from ratifying Paris climate agreement?, September 27, 2016, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Opinion/2016/09/27/Whats-holding-Russia-back-from-ratifying-Paris-climate-agreement/3991475000366/