“India’s population and emissions are rising fast, and its ability to tackle poverty without massive fossil fuel use will decide the fate of the planet…”
…”Of all the most polluting nations – US, China, Russia, Japan and the EU bloc – only India’s carbon emissions are rising: they rose almost 5% in 2016. No one questions India’s right to develop, or the fact that its current emissions per person are tiny. But when building the new India for its 1.3 billion people, whether it relies on coal and oil or clean, green energy will be a major factor in whether global warming can be tamed.
“India is the frontline state,” says Samir Saran, at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi. “Two-thirds of India is yet to be built. So please understand, 16% of mankind is going to seek the American dream. If we can give it to them on a frugal climate budget, we will save the planet. If we don’t, we will either destroy India or destroy the planet.”
This view is shared internationally: Christiana Figueres, the UN’s former climate chief who delivered the landmark Paris climate change agreement says India is “very, very important” for everybody, and the nation will play a key role at the UN summit that starts in Bonn, Germany next week.
Lord Nicholas Stern, the climate economist who has worked in India for 40 years, says a polluting, high-carbon development would leave India alone accounting for a huge chunk of the world’s future emissions, making it “very difficult” to keep the global temperature rise below the internationally agreed danger limit of 2C.
What will happen remains in the balance. “Anyone who claims to be able to predict India’s emissions in 2030 doesn’t have a lot of humility,” says Navroz Dubash, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi.
But what is clear is the scale of the challenge. “India has a vast amount of energy-using infrastructure yet to be put in place,” says Ajay Mathur, the head of the Energy and Resources Institute, an influential Delhi-based thinktank. “No matter what numbers you look at, we will at least double or double-and-a-half our energy consumption in the decade to 2030.”
India is embarking on one of the fastest rural-to-urban transitions in human history, with 200 million more city dwellers expected by 2030, all using new buildings, roads and cars. In this context, keeping the rise in emissions to just a doubling would be truly remarkable, says Stern, and leave India’s emissions per person well below the current global average.
But India’s vast population means that even small increases in emissions per person add up to a huge amount of carbon dioxide and India is likely to become the world’s biggest polluter. “The sheer numbers of the population multiplied by anything makes it a big number – that is India’s reality,” says Saran.”…The Guardian. Read the full article on Delhiair.org.