November 17, 2005

India unlikely to agree to Kyoto caps

By Sugita Katyal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is unlikely to agree to any
emission caps in the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol because
of its expanding energy-hungry economy, but analysts say
developed nations will continue to pile pressure on the nation.

Asia's third-largest economy and home to about a sixth of
humanity has some of the most polluted cities in the world,
many of them continually shrouded in eye-stinging smog of
noxious fumes from cars and industry.

Its growing energy needs are only expected to increase
along with pollution levels in the next few decades, despite
growing fears that global warming will spare no one.

The Kyoto climate change pact requires developed nations to
cut their emissions of heat-trapping gases by 5.2 percent from
1990 levels by 2008-2012. The United States and Australia
refused to ratify the pact and developing nations, such as
China and India are exempt from emissions caps all four
countries say threaten economic growth.

China's appetite for oil and coal is even greater than
India's. Both are likely to come under pressure to do more to
curb emissions growth when they join officials from 150
countries in Montreal for a U.N. climate change summit.

The Montreal meeting from November 28 will help shape the
Kyoto Protocol after its first phase ends in 2012, but
disagreement is rife and hopes of progress slim.

"There is no way that anybody can expect countries like
India to cap their emissions for the next 20-25 years," said
S.K. Joshi, a senior official in the environment ministry.

"We welcome the talks among the parties for the second
commitment period strictly in accordance with the requirements
of the Kyoto Protocol. The issue of entitlements has to be
addressed and the countries that have agreed to take on
commitments under the protocol have to show demonstrable

Many scientists blame the rapid increase in greenhouse gas
emissions, especially carbon dioxide, over the past century for
causing global warming, the worst effects of which could
include rising seas, greater extremes of drought and flood and
more intense storms.


While India's cities might be hugely polluted because of
the furious pace of industrialization, the country's per capita
emissions were still relatively low at 0.25 tonnes of carbon in
2001, which is less than a quarter of the world average and
many times less than the United States.

At the same time, India's contribution to world carbon
emissions is expected to grow at an average 3 percent a year
until 2025, compared with 1.5 percent in the United States,
because of ambitious expansion plans in the energy sector.

According to industry estimates, India's oil consumption is
expected to grow to 2.8 million barrels per day by 2010 from
2.65 million barrels per day in 2004.

In an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions by developing
energy technology, India became one of six countries -- along
with the United States, China, Australia, India and South Korea
-- to form the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development
and Climate in July.

"By joining the partnership we have not compromised our
position in any manner. This is complementing the Kyoto
Protocol. This is one more approach, an alternative approach to
the whole process of addressing the climate change issue,"
Joshi said.

Environmentalists say India should not agree to any binding
commitments after 2012.

"Kyoto is too little and too late. Nobody can say it's an
effective mechanism to control climate change," said Sunita
Narain, head of the Center for Science and Environment, a
leading environmental NGO.

"There have been no major structural changes to combat
climate change in the North. The use of fossil fuels continues.
And pressure will continue to grow on India and China to take
on commitments."