NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s greenhouse gas emissions are expected to jump to between 4 billion tonnes and 7.3 billion tonnes in 2031 but the Asian power’s rapid economic growth will be sustainable, a government-backed report said on Wednesday.
Per-capita emissions are estimated to rise to 2.1 tonnes by 2020 and 3.5 tonnes by 2030, according to a government-funded study by five different organisations, including environmental groups and the management consultancy firm, McKinsey.
The report did not give a figure for present emission levels but Indian climate negotiators say per-capita emissions are 1.2 tonnes at present. India’s population is 1.1 billion but is expected to grow to more than 1.5 billion in coming decades.
“It’s not a do-nothing strategy,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters.
“Embedded in the model are various assumptions of efficiency improvement. The per-capita principle is the only globally recognised measure of equity,” he said.
The report is the nation’s most sweeping emissions summary and its release comes months before a major U.N. climate gathering in Copenhagen aimed at trying to win agreement on a broader pact to fight climate.
The emissions projections highlight 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 curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
“The structure of the economy, policy and regulatory regime and energy endowment together ensure that India’s growth over the next two decades, while rapid, would remain inherently sustainable,” the report said.
“The results should set at rest any apprehensions that India’s GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions are poised for runaway increase over the next two decades,” the report added.
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.
Rich nations says poorer states must agree to emissions curbs as part of a broader climate pact.
“Bottomline is India is saying that its per-capita emission will be much lower than the industrial emission in United States and Europe by 2020,” said Sunita Narain, director of The Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi.
In a 2004 report to the United Nations, the last time India published detailed emissions data, the government said total greenhouse gas emissions were 1.228 billion tonnes, or about 1.3 tonnes per person, in 1994.
A government report in August said India contributes around five percent to global carbon dioxide emissions, but was still only about a quarter of the emissions of China and the United States.
Last month the German renewable energy industry institute IWR said India’s carbon dioxide emissions alone were 1.4 billion tonnes in 2008, or about 1.3 tonnes per-capita.
IWR said China’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2008 were 6.8 billion tonnes and 6.37 billion tonnes for the United States.
By Krittivas Mukherjee (Additional reporting by Bappa Majumdar)