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India puts forward carbon emissions plan

October 2, 2015

India has pledged to cut the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions as its economy grows and increases its use of renewable energy. The pledge comes before a summit in Paris to strike a global deal on climate change.

Indian solar park
Image: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images

The world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter pledged, in a proposal handed over to the UN Climate Secretariat on Thursday, to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP.

"India intends to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level," the nation of nearly 1.3 billion people said in the document.

The proposal does not cap India's emissions, but would effectively make every unit of GDP growth less carbon intensive. As a rapidly growing economy trying to get nearly 300 million people out of poverty, India has argued it should be allowed to grow while continuing to emit more greenhouse gases, although more efficiently.

Air pollution in India.
Image: AP

India's plan "is fair and ambitious considering the fact that India is attempting to work towards low carbon emission pathway while endeavouring to meet all the developmental challenges the country faces today," the proposal said.

India emits 2.07 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to estimates from 2014. That compares with 5.3 million tons from United States and 10.3 million tons from China, the two other largest emitters.

Expanding renewable energy

India also pledged to increase the share of energy it receives from non-fossil fuel sources to 40 percent, but said that it would need technological and financial assistance.

"India's climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. A substantial scaling up of the climate action plans would require greater resources," said the document.

Initial estimates put the cost of India's greenhouse gas plan at $2.5 trillion (2.2 trillion euros).

The plan includes increasing the use of solar and wind, while "aggressively" pursuing hydro and nuclear energy.

Controversially, the plan said India would continue to rely heavily on high carbon emitting coal for power to feed the energy needs of its economy. Coal-fired power plants currently provide nearly 60 percent of the country's energy needs.

Preparation for Paris summit

The announcement comes as world leaders prepare to convene in Paris in December in an effort to reach a binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions causing global climate change.

At least 140 countries have submitted their tentative pledges to limit greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the Paris summit.

Previous attempts to strike a deal have failed over differences between developed and developing countries - particularly the United States and China.

However, the US and China struck a deal last year after months of negotiations. Under the agreement, the US pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions between 26 percent and 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. China pledged to peak emissions by 2030.

This week Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, agreed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels.

cw/sms (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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