New Delhi: India said its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will grow fourfold in the next two decades if the economy expands by an average 8% a year during this period, but still remain below the global average—for 2005.
The country will use the estimate, the first measure of emissions by the ministry of environment and forests, to support its position in the global climate talks in Copenhagen in December.
India has refused to accept mandatory emission cuts such as the ones imposed on some developed countries.
Releasing the results of five India-specific studies on per capita GHG emissions on Wednesday, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said: “Per capita (emissions) is the only internationally recognized basis for equity. Four out of the five studies show that even two decades from now, India’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions would be well below the global average 25 years earlier.”
The report has been titled India’s GHG emissions profile.
A database maintained by the United Nations Development Programme says India’s per capita emission of GHG is 1.2 tonnes, while it is 15 tonnes for the UK and 20 tonnes for the US. The study has estimated that India’s per capita emissions will go up to 2.77-5 tonnes by 2030-31.
The estimates are based on assumptions on GDP growth rates, penetration of clean energy technologies, and improvements in energy efficiency. Of the five studies, three were conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research and Jadavpur University, one by The Energy Research Institute and the ministry, and one by the ministry and Integrated Research and Action for Development.
The report steers clear of any association of the estimates as the “business as usual” (BAU) scenario. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the G-8 summit in Italy in July said that “all countries have an obligation to be prepared to depart from business as usual”, without which climate change would accelerate. BAU is the estimated growth trajectory of a country without considering emissions generated and the impact of this on climate change.
Departures from BAU assume a country is committing to emission reductions, a move that may crimp economic growth—critical for achieving development goals of emerging economies such as India.
Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, who released the report jointly with Ramesh, said the estimates are not projections that will reflect commitment in international negotiations. “It is only to give a sense of what is our growth strategy and energy use in terms of emissions,” he said.
The report shows that India’s energy use efficiency has been improving over the years, as the energy intensity of GDP has reduced from 0.30 kgoe (kg of oil equivalent) per dollar of GDP in 1980 to 0.16 kgoe per dollar of GDP in 2004.
Prodipto Ghosh, former environment secretary and part of India’s climate change delegation, said, “India’s energy intensity peaked in 1980 and its 2004 levels are at par with Japan, which are considered the best.” India’s emissions in 2031 will be 4-7.3 billion tonnes, with four of the five studies estimating total emissions will remain under six billion tonnes.