Special Correspondent

ISRO will launch a dedicated satellite to track such emissions in 2012

“Our expertise on climate change should start influencing global discourse”

NEW DELHI: India has released its first greenhouse gas emissions inventory since 1994 — showing a 30 per cent fall in the emissions intensity of the GDP from that date till 2007 — even as it announced several measures to improve the domestic study of climate change.

From ISRO satellites to monitor India's greenhouse gas emissions and forest cover to indigenous peer-reviewed climate change journals, the government is initiating steps to reduce dependence on international science.

The ISRO will launch a dedicated satellite to track greenhouse gas (GHG) and aerosol emissions in 2012, and plans another satellite to monitor changes in forest cover on a real-time basis by 2013, according to Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.

Promises funding

Speaking at the release of the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment's GHG inventory, Mr. Ramesh urged the network's scientists to establish an Indian peer-reviewed journal on aspects of climate change science, and promised the Ministry's support and funding. “It is irksome that the best articles on Himalayan glaciology are from Ohio State University,” he said, pointing out that Indian expertise on such subjects needs to start influencing the global discourse on climate change.

The INCCA's inventory is in itself a step forward in pushing the domestic climate change agenda. “You cannot monitor something you cannot measure. And you certainly cannot hope to control something which you cannot monitor or measure,” said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, releasing the report on Tuesday.

He added that the 30 per cent drop in the emissions per unit of GDP boded well for India's voluntary target of reducing emissions intensity further by 20 to 25 per cent by 2025.

However, the inventory also shows that emissions grew 58 per cent from 1.25 billion tonnes in 1994 to 1.9 billion tonnes in 2007. The fastest growing contributors were the electricity generation, transport, cement, waste and residential sectors. Interestingly, agriculture, iron and steel and other industry sectors actually saw a relative decline in their share of the total emissions pie. In fact, emissions in the farm sector were slightly lower in 2007, as compared to 1994.

The forestry sector acted as a carbon sink, sequestering 177 million tonnes of GHG emissions.

In per capita terms, emissions rose from 1.4 tonnes to 1.7 tonnes without taking forestry compensations into account. Despite the increase, the per capita figure is still well below that of the developed world.