India is rapidly climbing the ladder as a country in severe eco-crisis. We may boast all we want about per capita carbon emissions being among the lowest in the world, but the national aggregate is among the top. This is another reason why population must be controlled within the country. Rapid urbanization and the growth of mega-cities is putting enormous pressure on natural resources. With 33% of the population of India living in cities, India's Urban National Policy is jarringly inadequate. 45% of the land is degraded and ground-water supplies are diminishing rapidly. Particulate air pollution is on the rise on cities hitting 110 million people causing public health damage costs in 2004 of about $3 billion.
India has overtaken Japan as the world's fourth-largest emitter of carbon with emissions one-quarter those of US and China. More than 60% of that comes from the energy sector. Forests soak up 11% of emissions and it has been indicated that the government is taking efforts to increase forest cover to combat climate change. This is also to ensure the protection of biodiversity however, 10% of plants and animals on the subcontinent are threatened with extinction. This includes species like the black-faced langur found in Nilgiris, Nilgiri Tahr and the lion-tailed macaque which are endemic to India.
India's carbon emissions are about 1.6 billion tons per year (2005) and are set to rise to 6.5 billion tons by 2030. This figure can be cut by 2.8 billion tons with improvements to infrastructure, agriculture and investment in renewable energy. In the lead up to the Copenhagen Conference in December, India has announced that it plans to tackle climate change with renewal energy and other cleantech advances but will not commit to binding emissions reductions. A recent report however, calculates that the cost of roughly halving carbon emissions growth by 2030 is $1.1 trillion which translates to about 2.3% of GDP which will be spent mostly on alternate energy.
The rich vs. poor is still the primary issue even to the lead up to COP15 with India and China arguing against emission cuts and Russia stating that will agree to emission targets only if the US does. This will be followed up on another post... so watch this space.