Carbon emissions into the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion worldwide in 2007 was 22 per cent higher than in 2000, says the Worldwatch Institute. India accounted for eight per cent of this.
"The US and Europe accounted for roughly four and three per cent, respectively, of the growth during this period," the Worldwatch has said in a recent report. "India contributed eight per cent and China a staggering 57 per cent."
The Washington-based think tank says that despite the rapid increase, China's 18.3 per cent share of global fossil fuel emissions remained slightly behind the US share of 19.5 per cent. Per capita emissions in the developing world remained well below those in industrial countries.
Emissions from human activities have greatly increased the stock of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The additional greenhouse gas (GHG) is trapping more heat, raising the average global temperature and changing the climate.
Burning of fossil fuels account for about 74 per cent of all CO2 emissions and for roughly 57 per cent of all GHG emissions.
Consumption of fossil fuels by the wealthiest countries is largely responsible for elevating atmospheric CO2 levels to the current 384 parts per million, an increase of 37 per cent over the pre-industrial level.
But, says the Worldwatch Institute report, "today the rapid, coal-dependent development of China and India is the most important driver of growth in global carbon dioxide emissions. Coal pro­vides 70 per cent of commercial energy in China and 56 per cent in India.
"Recent trends suggest that most of the growth in emissions from human activities will come from the developing world. In fact, based on the average growth rates for the past five years, China's emissions from fossil fuels will surpass those of the US some time in 2008."
The institute says: "The key to stabilising the global climate will be moving industrial nations to a low-carbon energy economy while ensuring that developing countries can leapfrog to cleaner development paths.
"The potential for de-carbonising modern economies is huge. Energy efficiency, wind, solar and hydro power are carbon-free energy alternatives that are available today. Germany, for example, already gets 14 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources and hopes to increase this to 45 per cent by 2030."
In an effort to clean its own backyard, the report quotes a 2007 study by McKinsey & Company that suggested that by 2030 the US could affordably reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 28 percent below the 2005 levels, using a mix of measures, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage.
China's current five-year plan includes a target of reducing the energy intensity of gross domestic product 20 per cent below the 2005 level by 2010. China has also adopted a plan to satisfy 10 per cent of energy demand through renewables by 2010 and then 15 per cent by 2020.
India unveiled its National Action Plan for Climate Change June 30 this year. Without making any commitment on quantitative emission caps, the plan talks of a huge thrust to solar power development and to energy efficiency.
According to a 2007 UN report, getting emissions back to today's levels by 2030 would require a global investment of about $200 billion annually, or 0.3-0.5 per cent of the gross world product (GWP).
But, the Worldwatch report pointed out, "achieving the reductions that scientists estimate are needed to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius will require bringing global emissions at least 50 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050".