Energy sector biggest greenhouse gas emitter in India, says national communication to UNFCCC

More climate models needed for improving future projections: scientists

By Uthra Radhakrishnan
Published: Thursday 10 May 2012

Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan made public India's second report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on May 9 in New Delhi in the presence of about 100 scientists. The report, referred to as national communication, gives details of the country's greenhouse gas emissions and impacts and vulnerability assessments.

According to the report, India's gas emissions in 2000 was 1.3 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent. This was 5.9 per cent more than the emissions in the first national communication report submitted in 2004, which used baseline data of 1994.


The energy sector has emerged as the largest contributor of greenhouse gases, accounting for two-thirds of the total emissions, followed by agriculture (20 per cent) and industrial processes (see 'Natcom report highlights').

Natcom report highlights
  • The total net emissions for the year 2000 is 1,301.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent
  • This is a 5.9 per cent more than the emissions data in the first national communication of 2004
  • The energy sector accounts for two-thirds the total emissions, followed by agriculture (20 per cent), industrial processes (5.8 per cent) and waste (3.4 per cent)
  • The forestry sector was a net absorber; carbon absorption by forests amount to 222,567 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent
  • Among gases, CO2 is the largest contributor to GHG emissions at 67.25%, followed by methane with a contribution of 26.73% and nitrous oxide, 5%
  • Future projections indicate temperature increase of 3.5°C to 4.3°C towards the end of the century
  • Rainfall is not expected to decrease significantly in most of the country except for the southern peninsula
  • The percentage of forests deemed vulnerable will be 30 per cent by 2050 and this figure will increase to 45 per cent towards the end of the century
  • Rice yields will increase, but quality of the produce will be affected. If adaptation strategies are not adopted, wheat yields could decrease by 6 million tonnes with a temperature increase of 1°C
The report, put together by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in coordination with scientists from more than 120 institutions of national repute, has also made projections about temperature increase, rainfall pattern and impact on agriculture and forests.   
The report has predicted an overall increase in temperature by 3.5 to 4.3°C  towards the end of century. The report uses future scenarios developed by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to assess the impact of climate change. Scientists at the workshop, however, pointed out that the forecasts are based only on one climate model and that more simulation models need to be used. K Krishna Kumar of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said higher resolution climate models and more number of climate models would be needed for more robust predictions.

The report says a 1°C increase in temperature can reduce wheat production by 6 million tonnes unless the right strategies are adapted. It has said there could be a decrease in rainfall in the southern peninsula. As for the impact on temperature increase on forests, the report says that percentage of forests deemed vulnerable will be 30 per cent by 2050 and 45 per cent towards the end of the century. R K Chaturvedi of the Indian Institute of Science cautioned that the projections for the forestry sector was made  using a  climate model that does not take into account certain features of Indian forests.  
Addressing the scientists gathered for a workshop where the report was released, Natarajan congratulated them for the timely submission. Commenting on the significance of the report, she said: “India has always been conscious of developing a good scientific understanding. This report will provide the absolute basis for our deliberations with the international community.”

As party the to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, India is expected to furnish information on the implementation of the Convention alongside all other developed and developing member countries that are signatories to the Convention. 


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