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New figures show India's emissions a fourth of China's

Aug 11, 2009 - Krittivas Mukherjee - Reuters

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India contributes around five percent to global carbon dioxide emissions, a new government report showed on Tuesday, but is still only about a quarter of the emissions of China and the United States.

The finding is based on the 2007 World Development Indicators figures of the World Bank.

The report, which said the energy sector contributed 61 percent of total emissions in India, pegged India's per capita emissions at only one-twentieth of the United States and about one-tenth of western Europe and Japan.

A separate government report said India's forests are absorbing about 11.25 percent of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) every year at 1994 levels -- or about 24 billion tons of CO2 -- a potential market worth $120 billion.

But it was not clear if India was quantifying climate benefits from forest cover to put in place a forest carbon trading mechanism or just demand funds to fight global warming under a U.N. scheme.

"India can do both -- they can use this as a bargaining chip to get money under the U.N. scheme as well as use this for trading as the most developed countries look to achieve their emission reduction targets through offsets," K. Srinivas, former climate campaigner of Greenpeace India.

Forests soak up vast amounts of planet-warming CO2 and can act as a brake on climate change.

Under an emerging U.N. scheme called reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation, or REDD, developing nations could potentially earn billions of dollars by setting aside and rehabilitating their forests.

The valuable carbon offsets they earn could be sold to rich nations to help them meet emissions goals under the program, likely to be part of a broader climate pact from 2013. Data released on Monday by German renewable energy industry institute IWR showed India's emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide grew 125 percent between 1990 and 2008, while China's grew 178 percent and the United States 17 percent. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who released the report, said the government was setting up a national institute of Himalayan glaciology and would coordinate with China to study the health of glaciers.

He said while "a couple of" Himalayan glaciers were receding, some others such as the Siachen glacier were advancing while others like the Gangotri glacier were receding at a decreasing rate compared to the last two decades.

"There is as yet, these words are really important, there is as yet no conclusive robust scientific evidence to show that the receding of glaciers in the Himalayas is being caused by climate change," he said.

(Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Sanjeev Miglani)