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The emission divide

The Indian rich not only emits much more CO2 than the poor, he is a more ineffi cient consumer of energy than the rich in developed countires, fi nds a Greenpeace survey. Here is how worrisome the situation has become and what to do about it.

     Print Edition: June 14, 2009

The Indian rich not only emits much more CO2 than the poor, he is a more ineffi cient consumer of energy than the rich in developed countires, fi nds a Greenpeace survey. Here is how worrisome the situation has become and what to do about it.

Dirty facts:

  • India is the 6th largest CO2 emitter in the world
  • Its per capita emission is 1.67 tonnes a year
  • India’s energy growth is well below its economic growth rate only because the service sector is a big contributor to GDP
  • India’s electricity production is the 14th dirtiest in the world, spewing 9.87 kg of CO2 per KwH
  • India’s rich emit 4.5 times more CO2 than do the country’s poor

Spot the guilty
Despite leaving less than half the carbon footprints of an average European, the rich Indian has, nonetheless, touched the global average. This means over 150 million Indians have crossed the CO2 emission levels needed to prevent global temperatures from getting more than 2 degree Celcius warmer.

Hurtling towards disaster

  • As living standards rise, more and more Indians will join the club of the rich, contributing to global warming. The government can help the poor to adapt to climate change while creating the carbon space for them to develop.

What the government should do

  • Establish mandatory effi ciency levels for household appliances and cars
  • Establish national carbon markets and create a carbon tax regulation
  • Move from coal generation to gas and renewable energy sources
  • Create differentiated but common responsibilities for the rich and poor
  • Create funds for sustainable development and reduce poverty

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