Coal-based power production accounted for almost 70 per cent of all of India’s carbon dioxide emissions and grew by about 13 per cent in 2012.

Despite recording its lowest GDP growth — 4 per cent — in a decade in 2012, India belched 2 billion tonnes of carbon di-oxide into the atmosphere during the year, 6.8 per cent more than in 2011. That level of greenhouse-gas emissions made India the fourth largest emitter last year, after China, the US and the European Union (EU).

But don’t feel bad yet. India simply has more people than the US and the EU, so the emission per person is neither too high nor unpardonable. In fact, India’s per capita emissions were lower than even China’s, despite the latter having more people, notes a report on Trends in Global CO2 Emissions, 2013. The report was brought out by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

The report, produced with the EU and made public recently, notes that the increase in emissions was primarily caused by a 10 per cent rise in coal consumption.

Coal-based power production accounted for almost 70 per cent of all of India’s coal-related CO2 emissions and grew by about 13 per cent in 2012, the highest annual growth ever, says the report.

Good news globally

The report points to a heartening trend in the global emissions scenario. In 2012, the world let out 34.5 billion tonnes of CO2, a gas that turns into a shield in the upper atmosphere, preventing heat reflected by the earth’s surface from dissipating in space — a phenomenon better known as ‘global warming’. But the emissions were just 1.1 per cent higher than in 2011.

Moreover, the report found a disconnect between emissions and global economic growth and concluded that such ‘decoupling’ points to a “shift towards less fossil-fuel intensive activities, more use of renewable energy and increased energy saving.”

China accounted for 29 per cent of global emissions, but on a per capita basis, they were comparable to those of the EU and almost half as much as the US. The US accounted for 16 per cent of emissions while the EU was responsible for 11 per cent. The low per capita emissions in India and China are yet another data point for the developing countries to assert their rights on emissions.

A point that goes in favour of the US and the EU is that emissions from both regions decreased — by 4 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively. China’s emissions increased at a slower rate of 3 per cent compared with 10 per cent over the last decade. India’s and Japan’s rose by 6.8 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

While the report opens on a positive note with the point that global emissions grew only 1.1 per cent, it stresses that unless total CO2 emissions between 2000 and 2050 do not exceed 1,000 to 1,500 billion tonnes, it would not be possible for the world to meet the target of a not-more-than 2 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature over pre-industrial levels.

Against this, human beings have already let out 466 billion tonnes of the offensive gas between 2000 and 2012.

(This article was published on November 18, 2013)
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