A new report shows just how important greenhouse gas emissions from China and India are in the worldwide context.
The two countries alone managed to offset the developed world’s recession-induced fall in carbon dioxide emissions last year.
The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), a national policy institute, estimates that total CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement in the OECD and Russia collectively fell by 7 per cent last year. China and India’s emissions rose by 9 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.
The result was that total world emissions growth was flat between 2008 and 2009, PBL says.
The agency says it is the first time since 1992 that CO2 emissions haven’t increased. Recessions in the mid-1970s and early 1980s also led to brief periods of flattening in emissions growth.
It’s not that China and India aren’t making efforts to reduce their emissions. China’s plans to reduce its energy intensity and carbon intensity per unit of GDP have won some praise - and some criticism. The PBL report notes that China’s emissions have more than doubled since 2000. The country is failing to meet its current energy intensity targets. And despite promises from Premier Wen Jiabao of an ‘iron fist’ to meet the 2010 targets, no amount of hand-wringing, admonishments or declarations, will guarantee success of the energy-intensity goals if the measures to enforce them are dud in the first place, as some experts have suggested.
Or if they are undermined by contradictory measures the economic stimulus package introduced in 2008 and 2009 looks likely to have increased energy - and carbon - intensity.
Meanwhile in India, which has much lower emissions per capita than China, the government has made the politically difficult step to abolish fuel subsidies. The finance minister, Pranab, says there is ‘no question’ of rolling back the decision.
But subsidies are highly politically sensitive, and widespread strikes today, supported by the opposition, could test the government’s resolve.
Source: Financial Times