New Delhi has formally joined the Paris deal agreed to by 200 countries in the French capital last year. India is the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
"India has deposited its instrument of ratification of the Paris agreement with the United Nations," the UN said in a statement Sunday. India's Minister of State for Environment, Anil Madhav Dave, posted a message on Twitter announcing the move.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced last month that New Delhi would ratify the agreement on October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday.
Two hundred countries agreed to join the UN's efforts to tackle climate change, signing the deal in Paris last year. The accord required countries to achieve goals of limiting a global rise in temperature to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
With India's entry, a total of 62 countries, accounting for almost 52 percent of global emissions, have agreed to stem rising temperatures on the planet. India accounts for over four percent of international carbon emissions and has not agreed to cap emissions; instead it says it will use more green energy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also insisted that rich countries shoulder a larger burden of reducing emissions, because they have polluted the most since the Industrial Revolution.
Deal to be implemented by end of 2016
US President Barack Obama praised the move in a Twitter message.
Climate activists welcomed the motion, but criticized India, saying New Delhi had not done much to phase out coal, a major source of electricity production. "This government is good on renewable energy, but not good on environmental issues. There is a lot of pushing back on air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution," Joydeep Gupta, director of the environmental website "The Third Pole," told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
The Paris climate deal received a big boost last month when China and the US, the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, joined international efforts to combat climate change. The deal still needs to be ratified by countries representing over 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Next week, countries of the European Union (EU) will complete joint ratification of the deal, considered a milestone ahead of the next round of climate talks in Morocco in 2017.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed hope that the Paris Agreement will come into force by the end of this year.
mg/jlw (Reuters, AFP)