Demonetisation, GST could have helped India cut greenhouse gas emissions in 2017: Report

2017 Global Carbon Budget report: If India's economy was able to recover quickly from these interventions, the annual growth in greenhouse gas emissions was once again likely to go over 5 per cent in 2018

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Bonn (germany) | Updated: November 14, 2017 1:21 am
india emissions, india pollution, The rise in global emissions could be attributed to a 3.5 per cent projected increase in the emissions of China, which had remained almost flat last year, and relatively lower reductions in the United States and the European Union compared to last year

The growth in India’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 was substantially lower than the average in the last one decade, and it seems demonetisation and the introduction of goods and services tax also had some role to play in it.

The 2017 Global Carbon Budget report, published simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Environmental Research Letters, and Earth System Science Data Discussions on Monday, says that by the end of this year, global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and industrial use was likely to increase by 2 per cent compared to last year, ending a three-year period of almost zero growth.

The rise in global emissions could be attributed to a 3.5 per cent projected increase in the emissions of China, which had remained almost flat last year, and relatively lower reductions in the United States and the European Union compared to last year. China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the United States, European Union and India.

“The return to growth in global emissions in 2017 is largely due to a return to growth in Chinese emissions, projected to grow by 3.5 per cent in 2017 after two years with declining emissions. The use of coal, the main fuel source in China, may rise by 3 per cent due to stronger growth in industrial production and lower hydro-power generation due to less rainfall,” Glen Peters, research director at CICERO in Oslo and one of the lead authors of the study, said in a statement.

Though India’s emissions in 2017 is also projected to rise, this increase is likely to be only 2 per cent over last year, the report says. In the last one decade, India’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased on an average of almost six per cent every year, it says. Last year, India’s emissions had grown by 6.7 per cent.

The report acknowledges the rapid progress made in installation of solar energy in India but says the substantially lower growth rate could be attributed to a slowdown in economy as well.

“Although India’s installed solar capacity almost doubled in 2016 to 12 GW (gigawatts), the reduction in this year’s growth is attributable to many factors, including reduced exports, a declining share of industrial and agricultural production in GDP, reduced consumer demand, and both a sudden fall in money circulation attributable to demonetisation late in 2016 and a goods and services tax introduced in 2017,” the report published in Environmental Research Letters says.

It says if India’s economy was able to recover quickly from these interventions, the annual growth in greenhouse gas emissions was once again likely to go over 5 per cent in 2018. India’s greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and industrial use was likely to be 2.5 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide equivalent. On the other hand, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 from fossil fuels and industrial use was projected to be 36.8 Gt of CO2 equivalent, with an error margin of 1.8 Gt. Of this, China would account for 10.5 Gt, the United States 5.3 Gt, and the European Union 3.5 Gt. Rest of the world would contribute 15.1 Gt of CO2 equivalent.

Fossil fuel burning and industrial use account for nearly 80 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions by human activities. The third big contribution comes from changes in land use. Deforestation, for example, would lead to increased emissions. The total emissions from all sources, including the contribution from land-use change, was projected to reach about 41 Gt of CO2 equivalent in 2017, the report says.

It says economic projections for the major emitters showed that the growth in emissions was likely to continue in 2018 as well. This could have very important consequences for the global efforts to contain the rise in temperatures to within two degree celsius from pre-industrial times, which is the objective of the Paris Agreement.

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