NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s greenhouse gas emissions grew 58 percent between 1994 and 2007, official figures released on Tuesday showed, helped up by a largely coal-reliant power sector that nearly doubled its share in emissions.
Total emissions rose to 1.9 billion tonnes in 2007 versus 1.2 billion in 1994, with industry and transport sectors also upping their share in Asia’s third largest economy and confirming India’s ranking among the world’s top five carbon polluters.
By way of comparison, between 1994 and 2007, India added more than the entire emissions produced annually by Australia. India is still low on per-capita emissions, about a tenth that of the United States.
The power sector accounted for 719.30 million tonnes of emissions against 355.03 million tonnes in 1994, while the transport sector’s share jumped to 142.04 million tonnes from 80.28 million tonnes during the same period.
Industrial emissions rose a little more than 30 per cent during the same period.
With agriculture’s share in the Indian economy dropping over the past years, emissions from the sector dipped marginally during 1994-2007.
The report highlights India’s growing role as a key player in the U.N.-led climate negotiations on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol and the need to include big developing nations in global efforts to fight climate change.
Figures in the government report, released by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh at a conference in New Delhi, show India
closing in on Russia, now the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter, at nearly 2.2 billion tonnes in 2007.
China is the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases blamed for heating up the planet. The United States is second.
Russia’s emissions have been growing at a slower pace than those of India, whose energy-hungry economy has been expanding at about 8 percent a year as it tries to lift millions out of poverty.
This has propelled investment in coal-fired power stations, steel mills, cement plants and mining, as well as renewable energy.
“Interestingly, the emissions of the United States and China are almost four times that of India in 2007,” Ramesh told the conference.
“It is also noteworthy that the energy intensity of India’s GDP declined by more than 30 percent during the period 1994-2007 due to the efforts and policies that we are proactively putting into place. This is a trend we intend to continue,” he said.
Energy intensity refers to the amount of energy used per unit of gross domestic product.
COAL REMAINS CRUCIAL
India has also set a carbon intensity reduction target of 20 to 25 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.
Data from 1994 was the last official report to the United Nations on India’s emissions because, as a developing country, India is not obliged to make annual emissions declarations to the world body, unlike rich nations.
The latest U.N. emissions data for industrialized nations date to 2007.
Although India has announced a new climate plan which identifies renewable energy, such as solar power, as a key element, coal remains the backbone of energy supply in a country where almost half the 1.1 billion population has no access to electricity.
The country has 10 percent of the world’s coal reserves, and it plans to add 78.7 gigawatts of power generation during the five years ending March 2012, most of it from coal, which now accounts for about 60 percent of the nation’s energy mix.
Developing nations now emit more than half of mankind’s greenhouse gas pollution and that figure is expected to accelerate in the short term even as poorer nations embrace renewable energy and greater energy efficiency.
A government-backed report last year projected India’s greenhouse gas emissions could jump to between 4 billion tonnes and 7.3 billion tonnes in 2031, but per-capita emissions would still be half the global average.
Additional reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee in Singapore; Editing by David Fogarty and Jerry Norton
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