India Now World's #3 Carbon Emitter & Environment Minister Commits to Low-Carbon Growth Only

solar battery charging station photo

Solar powered battery charging station, photo: hiroo/Creative Commons.

Some encouraging words coming from India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh: Speaking ahead of the last climate negotiations before COP16 next month, Ramesh acknowledged that India was now the world's third-largest carbon emitter, and told Reuters that "We will unilaterally, voluntarily, move on a low-carbon growth path. We can't have 8-9% GDP growth and high-carbon growth. It has to be low-carbon growth...that is the objective that we have set for ourselves." Which is all good news for sure.

China + US = 45% of World Emissions - India is 5%
In highlighting India's heightened (lowered?) status as the world's number three emitter, Ramesh noted rightly, "The gap between the second and the third (highest emitters) is very, very high but nevertheless we need to be conscious of our contribution."

How big is that gap? At number one China is responsible for 23% of total greenhouse gas emissions, the United States in second emits 22%, and India at number three emits (wait for it...) just 5%.

In that, it's important to remember that the per capita contribution to global emissions of the average India is quite low, and could even rise at still be sustainably extended to everyone on the planet. China's are just over 6 tons per person and in fact higher than those of people living in France. The US, depending on who's doing to the calculating and what factors are considered, is either number one or number two (Australia taking the dirtiest prize).

Difference Between India & China's Rhetoric Stark
The other thing that pops to mind in hearing Ramesh's statement is the difference in rhetoric between India and China. While India won't commit to binding targets ("voluntarily" commit to low-carbon growth), at least it still has an ethical leg to stand upon, with low per capita emissions and just 5% of the world total emissions.

China, on the other hand, also won't commit to binding reductions--which in the interest of fairness, it should be pointed out that the US doesn't much seem inclined to either; not in a meaningful way--but has per capita emissions as high as a low-emitting European nation, has the highest national emissions in the world, and is now the world's biggest consumer of energy to boot. If that doesn't qualify China (ethically if not legally, under the Kyoto Protocol) as having to make some binding emission reductions, I'm not sure what does.

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More on Global Climate Change:
Climate Change 'Solves' Political Dispute As Bay of Bengal Island Vanishes Under Rising Seas
Indian Environmentalist Calls US on Climate Change Blame Game
India's Environment Minister Calls For Unconditional Emissions Cuts
India Won't Commit to Binding Emissions Reductions - Which is Why Rich Countries Must Make Deeper Cuts

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