India to Cut Climate Emissions 25 Percent by 2020

NEW DELHI, India, May 29, 2007 (ENS) - India's current environmental policies will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25 percent by the year 2020, the country's top environmental official said Monday.

Dr. Pradipto Ghosh, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, told reporters that India’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is only four percent.

India as a developing country does not have any legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol, but Dr. Ghosh said India is "following a sustainable development path, ensuring energy conservation, improved energy efficiency in various sectors and use of renewable energy."

India's Environment Secretary Pradipto Ghosh holds a news conference in New Delhi. May 28, 2007. (Photo courtesy Government of India)
India's existing legislative and policy framework, together with energy efficiency measures, energy conservation, power sector reforms, fuel switching to cleaner energy, and afforestation are all helping to address India's contribution to global warming, he said.

The world's second most populous nation, in 2001 India ranked fifth in the world in carbon dioxide emissions, behind the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

India's non-participation in the Kyoto Protocol has been cited as a major reason behind the opposition to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol by several signatories, including the United States.

Although India's carbon emissions stood at only 80 percent of Japan's total and less than one-sixth of the United States' carbon emissions that same year, the rapid growth of India's carbon emissions - in combination with its exclusion from the Protocol - is the main point of controversy.

Ghosh defended India's nonparticipation, saying that developing countries, due to their historical and current low per capita levels of greenhouse gas emissions, are not to blame for the problem of global warming.

Still, Ghosh said proudly that India is an "energy responsible country, and we have done more than any other developing country."

India has largest number of projects under the protocol's Clean Development Mechanism with more than 600 projects approved so far, the environment secretary said.

Industrialized countries with targets to meet under the Kyoto Protocol, can use the Clean Development Mechanism to obtain "certified emission reductions" by creating projects in countries without targets, such as India. These projects must reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

"Our modelling approaches show the effect of many of our policies taken together that the year 2020 will result in a more than a 25 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions," said Ghosh.

At next week's G8 summit in Germany, India and other large developing countries are likely to face pressure to do more to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

India is one of the so-called "outreach countries" also including Brazil, China, Mexico and South Africa. These countries have been invited to meet the G8 states at the Summit in Heiligendamm because they "are being integrated into global responsibility," the German government said last week.