India Continues to Argue Against Emission Cuts Even as Emissions are Set to Quadruple by 2030

  • Published on September 5th, 2009

The Indian government released a report recently which predicted a fourfold increase in carbon emissions output in the next two decades. According to the government report, India’s carbon emissions would increase to 4 to 7 billion tonnes from last year’s level of 1.4 billion tonnes by 2031.

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India’s environment minister, however, preferred to point out another finding in the report. The report predicts almost 100 percent increase in per capita emissions but the minister noted that even with a 3.5 to 4 tonnes per capita output it would remain below the global average. The globally agreed limit of per capita emission for sustainable development is 2 tonnes.

That is the argument that the Indian government has put forward frequently in order to dodge international pressure to reduce its carbon emissions. India maintains that its per capita carbon emissions are way below those of the developed countries and thus it would be unfair to ask it to set mandatory emission reduction targets.

The timing of the report is crucial given that Copenhagen round of climate talks for finalizing the next climate treaty are just three months away. The report noted that even though India is among the four largest producers of greenhouse gases its footprint is very small as compared to China or the United States. The Indian government certainly hopes to dodge the growing international pressure calling it to act boldly to reduce its carbon emissions.

Yet another tool the Indian government would be looking at in order to save itself from the demands of mandatory or even voluntary emission reduction goals is the forest cover. The report stated that India’s forest cover absorbs 11 percent of the carbon emissions produced. India is looking to market its forest reserves as efficient carbon offsetting resource and gain monetary assistance from the developed countries through the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) credits.

With China in close talks with the United States and considering voluntary carbon emission cuts India is finding itself in a precarious situation. China and India were the face of developing countries’ resistance to emission reduction targets but concentrated diplomatic efforts by the Obama administration have resulted in clear divisions in the developing countries’ camp.

The failure of Kyoto Protocol is widely agreed upon by experts around the world and the next climate treaty could meet the same fate if there is no global effort to reduce carbon emissions. The responsibility rests with both developed and developing countries since the carbon emissions of developing countries are now also reaching alarming levels. It is critical, therefore, that developing countries take steps to reduce the same and make the transition to clean energy systems and the developed countries must provide the technical and monetary help necessary.

The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.

About the Author

currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

3 comments

  • If by your condescending "Continues to Argue" statement, you mean resting the ridiculous and unfair pressure of preventing 500 Million people from being brought out of the gravest poverty that humans on the planet know off? in place of technology thats hugely expensive for a country which can't even prove the current cheap/dirty solutions for its citizens.

    Laughable and illogical.

    Better to have an species go extinct than have such a large percentage of population[with china's ] suffer willing this much.

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