India’s percentage CO2 emissions rose faster than the world average

India’s percentage carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose slower in 2016-19 than in 2011-15 but was much above the world average of 0.7%, according to an analysis published in Nature Climate Change on Monday.

By comparison, China posted a 0.4% increase in 2016-19 and the United States registered a decline in emissions of 0.7%, though in absolute numbers they dwarf India’s emissions. In 2018, for instance, China emitted about 10 billion tonnes and the United States 5.41 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. India emitted 2.65 tonnes over the same time.

In 2020, when the pandemic dented economic growth, India’s emissions fell 9.7% to a little more than the world average of 9.6%.

The percentage changes are based on data supplied by the countries themselves. It comes ahead of a “global stock take” that shows how much reduction countries have achieved since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, which commits the world to reducing emissions enough to keep the earth from warming below 0.5-1 degree Celsius by the end of the century. Countries are expected to convene at the United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland later this year to report on their progress and the ways ahead.

The CO2 emissions research by scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA), United Kingdom; Stanford University, United States, and the Global Carbon Project, U.K., showed 64 countries cut their fossil CO2 emissions during 2016-2019, but the rate of reduction needed to increase tenfold to meet the Paris Agreement aims to tackle climate change.

While emissions decreased in 64 countries, they increased in 150 countries. Globally, emissions grew by 0.21 billion tonnes of CO2 per year during 2016-2019 compared to 2011-2015.

In 2020, lockdowns to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic cut global emissions by 2.6 billion tonnes of CO2, about 7% below 2019 levels. The researchers say 2020 was a “pause button” that cannot realistically continue while the world overwhelmingly relied on fossil fuels, and lockdowns being “neither a sustainable nor desirable solution” to the climate crisis.

“Countries’ efforts to cut CO2 emissions since the Paris Agreement are starting to pay off, but actions are not large-scale enough yet and emissions are still increasing in way too many countries,” Prof Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Professor at UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, who led the analysis, said in a statement.

Annual cuts of 1-2 billion tonnes of CO2 are needed throughout the 2020s and beyond to avoid exceeding global warming within the range 1.5°C to well below 2°C, the ambition of the UN Paris Agreement. The world has warmed by over 1°C since the Industrial Revolution because of emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities.

Of the 36 high-income countries, 25 saw their emissions decrease during 2016-2019, compared with 2011-2015. Apart from the U.S., this included the European Union (-0.9%), and the U.K. (-3.6%). Thirty of 99 upper-middle income countries also saw their emissions decrease during 2016–2019 compared with 2011–2015.

“India’s percentage emissions must be seen in the context of the development trajectories of different countries. The absolute emissions of both China and the U.S. are huge,” said Ajay Mathur, former director general, The Energy Resources Institute. “Our reductions are primarily driven by energy efficiency gains in electricity production and use and it’s likely that we would post improved gains in the next assessment.”

A full bounce-back in 2021 to previous CO2 emission levels appeared unlikely, the authors said, unless the COVID-19 recovery directed investments in clean energy and the green economy were fully implemented.

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Printable version | Jun 26, 2022 3:30:21 pm |