Thursday, 3 December 2009

India reveals carbon emission targets

Randeep Ramesh in Delhi, Wednesday 2 December 2009 21.29 GMT
India became the last of the "big four" polluters to reveal its opening hand in the negotiations today, ahead of the crucial climate change talks in Copenhagen next week.
Government sources revealed the country could curb the carbon emitted relative to the growth of its economy – its carbon intensity – by 24% by 2020.
The target would mean emissions would continue to rise as the government aims to lift millions out of poverty, but by less than currently predicted.
The leaked figure days after the announcement last week that China would cut its carbon intensity by more than 40% by 2020. The EU has already pledged a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2020 – set to rise to 30% if other developed countries match the European target – while the US last month proposed cuts of 17%. These four are expected to emit almost two-thirds of the carbon between now and 2050.
Comparing the targets is complicated. India and China's target are for carbon intensity, but they at least use the same base year, 2005. The EU uses 1990 as a base year, while the US uses 2005. But observers see all the targets as below what scientists say are needed to give an even chance of keeping temperature rise below the dangerous limit of 2C.
"If India offers an emissions target, even if it's relative to their economic growth, it's a very welcome step," said Bryony Worthington, founder of campaign group Sandbag. "It's yet another sign that rapidly developing countries see the potential for green growth. Europe now needs to up its game and commit to targets which really get to grips with our apparently unshakeable addiction to carbon."
Sources told the Indian media that the reduction in carbon intensity could go up to 37% by 2030, compared with 2005. India's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, is expected to make a statement in parliament tomorrow to announce the targets. To reduce emissions, India's national action plan on climate change sees increasing solar power generation and improving energy efficiency as a route to "greener growth". In August, India laid out an ambitious plan to generate 20GW of solar power by 2020, which could equate to 75% of the world's solar energy.
The country, which is the fourth-highest emitter of greenhouse gases, has been under pressure from developed nations to announce its plan to control emissions.
The "voluntary reductions" were first floated by Ramesh last week during talks with the Chinese prime minister. He told journalists then that India could not afford to be seen as lagging behind in other nations in offering to act.
A senior government official, who declined to be named, told Reuters that India's final targets, likely to be presented in Copenhagen, could reflect a broad range rather than a specific figure.
The momentum generated by the succession of announcements on targets may throw attention on to the issue of funding for climate adaptation in poorer nations.
Delhi has been a hardliner in the negotiations saying it won't accept legally binding emission caps and offered only to keep per-capita output of carbon lower than that of richer nations. The average Indian's carbon footprint is eight times smaller than the average person in Britain.