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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Eye on India: India Says Existing Efforts Will Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions More than 25% by 2020

Country says existing energy plan will reduce emissions, but warns that mandatory targets would curb economic growth

India’s Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Prodipto Ghosh, said that the country’s existing energy policy would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25% by 2020, Reuters reports. However, Ghosh also warned that pressure to set mandatory targets to curb global warming would hurt the developing nation's economic growth.

India currently produces about 3% of total global anthropogenic carbon emissions, Reuters reports. Despite pressure from industrialized nations and environmental groups to cut emissions, India is not currently required under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions - estimated to be rising by 2-3 percent annually.

Prodipto Ghosh, India's environment secretary, told a news conference that India was an environmentally responsible country which actively enforced programs on energy efficiency and promotion of renewable energy, which were paying off.

India is currently spending 2.17% of GDP annually on addressing climate change, Ghosh said, through projects in agriculture, coastal zones and health and sanitation.

Ghosh put the blame for global warming on industrialized nations, arguing that they have a responsibility to set higher cuts in emissions targets for themselves, rather than pressuring developing countries. This stance is unchanged from past negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol echoes China's recent statements regarding mandatory emissions targets (see previous post).

The world's richest countries, including the United States, contributed about 60 percent of total emissions in 2004 and account for over three quarters of cumulative emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution, Reuters reports.

"Developing countries like India have not historically, are not now and will not in the foreseeable future be a significant contributor to emissions," said Ghosh.

"Any legally mandated measures for reducing emissions are likely to have significant adverse impacts on GDP growth and this will have serious implications for poverty alleviation efforts."

He urged the West to do more to help developing countries adapt to the impact of climate change.

"Climate change impacts will largely affect the poor and their livelihoods and lives will be at risk," he said.

Experts say the Indian subcontinent will be one of the most affected regions in the world, with more frequent natural disasters of greater severity, more diseases such as malaria and greater hunger. While developed nations are responsible for the large majority of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions, poor and developing nations are likely to feel the brunt of the effects of global warming, the IPCC and other experts predict (see previous post).

It is unclear whether or not this 25% reduction is relative to current emissions levels or to a projected business-as-usual (BAU) emissions level in 2020. My guess, considering how rapidly India is growing (and wants to grow), it is relative to a BAU estimate. This compares to Sweden's plans to cut emissions 30% below current levels (or maybe below 1990 levels; their plans aren't clear either - see other post).

[A hat tip to Green Car Congress. Image credit:]

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