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Shravya Reddy’s Blog

Increasing Transparency: India Releases GHG Inventory

Shravya Reddy

Posted May 14, 2010 in Solving Global Warming

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Earlier this week, India released a report on India’s greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, 2007. This was the long anticipated first comprehensive inventory of India’s GHG emissions since 1994, and was a significant step in upholding the transparency provisions that countries agreed upon at Copenhagen.  In publishing this report, India became the first developing country to release such recent numbers. This is important since the uncertainty about when key developing countries would report on their emissions was a major issue of contention at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, and India has now effectively addressed these concerns.

The key findings of the report include: 

  • Net Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from India in 2007, including LULUCF, were 1727.71 million tons of CO2 equivalent (eq) of which CO2 emissions were 1221.76 million tons, CH4 emissions were 20.56 million tons; and N2O emissions were 0.24 million tons.  
  • GHG emissions from Energy, Industry, Agriculture, and Waste sectors constituted 58%, 22%, 17% and 3% of the net CO2 eq emissions respectively. 
  • The energy sector emitted 1100.06 million tons of CO2 eq, of which 719.31 million tons of CO2 eq were emitted from electricity generation and 142.04 million tons of CO2 eq from the transport sector.  
  • The industrial sector emitted 412.55 million tons of CO2 eq. 

In terms of what this means for India’s GHG trajectory, the report was interpreted differently by different audiences, resulting in very distinct headlines the next day. The Hindu, one of India’s most highly regarded publications, ran a story titled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fell by 30% during 1994-2007”. The BBC News Service ran a story under the heading “Steep Rise in India Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, stating that the report indicated a nearly 60% rise in emissions between 1994 and 2007. 

So, who was right? The BBC claim was based on the numbers in India’s report, which records that “The total GHG emissions without LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) have grown from 1251.95 million tons in 1994 to 1904.73 million tons in 2007.” Thus, it was accurate (the percentage increase is 58 percent). The Hindu, on the other hand, chose to highlight in the body of the article that the 30% decline was in India’s emissions intensity of GDP between 1994 and 2007. Had it clarified in its headline that it was referring to emissions intensity, any resulting confusion would have been averted. 

The 30% fall in energy intensity per unit GDP is indeed accurate, commendable, and it is an important factor that the government report justifiably highlighted. It demonstrates that India is on its way to achieving its Copenhagen Accord target of reducing emissions intensity by 20 to 25 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2020.    

On the whole, the report shows that while India continues to work towards reducing its emissions intensity, if the total emissions continue to rise at the present rates, it is well on its way to soon becoming the world’s third largest emitter.

India’s report is also an example for other countries in order to increase transparency and accountability for measuring and reporting emissions.  Having timely and transparent data on India’s emissions will help the Indian government, policymakers, and public make informed decisions about how to drive both domestic and international action to fight climate change.  And it will provide confidence to the rest of the world that Indian is moving in the right direction.  It is a win-win that India should be commended for producing.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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