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Indian cities are emission babes

Indian cities produce far less greenhouse gases that cause global warming than their richer cousins abroad, says a first-ever study of its kind, reports Chetan Chauhan. Full coverage | Graphics

delhi Updated: Nov 02, 2009 01:37 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Indian cities produce far less greenhouse gases that cause global warming than their richer cousins abroad, says a first-ever study of its kind.

The worst of the Indian cities was Patna at 2.80 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalent per capita every year, followed by Jamshedpur at 2.76.

They are babes compared to international heavy-hitters like Washington at 19.7 tonnes, Shanghai at 8.1 tonnes, Toronto at 8.2, New York at 7.1 and London at 6.2.

There are 61 greenhouse gases that are together called CO2 equivalent. Carbon Dioxide is the biggest villain of them all; Methane is a distant second.

They are the result of the way we use electricity, treat solid waste and the fuel we choose for road and air travel.

Being heavier than air, they hang low preventing heat from escaping into the atmosphere, as in a green house, causing global warming.

There is a worldwide consensus on the need to mitigate greenhouse gases, and a treaty is expected on the rules at a meeting in Copenhagen in December.

A non-governmental organisation, Local Governments for Sustainability, did the evaluation of Indian cities for the British High Commission. The report is being released on November 5.

“No Indian city has per capita emission higher than say New York or London,” said Emami Kumar of the organisation that did the study.

“This shows that even though our economy is growing at 7 to 8 per cent we are emitting less of these gases than rich countries,” Kumar added.

The government has endorsed Kumar’s study, and so have the municipal corporations of the cities evaluated.

The conclusion is simply this: the richer nations are contributing more to global warming than their poor compatriots.

And then there is an even finer distinction. “Richest Indians emit less green house gases than the poorest Americans,” said Sunita Narain, Director of NGO Centre for Science and Environment.

Ten per cent of the richest Indians produce more carbon dioxide equivalent — two tonnes a year — compared to 10 or 14 tonnes by the 10 per cent of the poorest Americans.

“Our study has shown that even rich Indians are more responsive when it comes to environment,” said Kumar.

But India is cleaning up its act

Delhi has registered a project with the international clean technology regulator United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for mitigating 18,0331 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by treating its waste better.

Gujarat’s Junagarh municipal corporation, Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore municipal corporation and Maharashtra’s Pune municipal corporation are also working on their waste disposal processes.

425 green buildings are at various stages of completion, with a footprint of over 310 million sq feet, second largest, globally. They would together about 3.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.