The International Spectator
By Namrata Patodia Rastogi
India’s approach to climate change has shifted dramatically in the span of a few years. Not only has India developed a comprehensive climate change program domestically, it has adopted a new stance in the international negotiations that has earned it the reputation of being a ‘deal maker’. This dramatic, and to many unexpected, shift in India’s climate change strategy can be understood if seen in the context of India’s economic and development aspirations and the changes occurring in the larger geopolitical landscape. Climate change, due to its multi-faceted nature, cuts across a spectrum of issues and India can benefit both domestically and internationally by addressing it. India’s desire to play a strategically important role in a new global order as well as deal with domestically critical issues like energy security and energy access, all coalesce with the climate issue. By engaging proactively on climate change, India may be able to advance all of these objectives at once. To succeed, it must demonstrate that action on climate change does not come at the expense of economic growth or development goals, and that these can, in reality, go hand in hand.
BANGKOK -- It’s no surprise, in the pre-Copenhagen posturing, that the United States is once again seen by many as the single greatest obstacle to an effective global climate effort. The truth, though, is that the U.S. is hardly alone. On all the key issues – emission targets, developing country commitments, and finance – other key players aren’t ready to strike a final deal either.
In his address last week to a high-level UN climate summit, President Obama offered an impressive list of early accomplishments. Yet as was painfully evident, absent comprehensive legislation from Congress, the administration comes to the negotiating table with loads of good intention, but not yet prepared to take on binding international commitments.
Other countries, meanwhile, appear to be showing some movement.
Both China and India, long viewed as the other principal barriers to agreement, are signaling a new willingness to act - at least domestically. President Hu Jintao told the UN summit that China will set a goal to reduce its carbon intensity by a “notable margin.” India’s government is talking about setting domestic goals to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. These steps are encouraging, and may help inoculate the two countries against blame in the event Copenhagen is a failure. But in neither case has the government offered specific numbers or said it is prepared to translate its actions into international commitments.
Yukio Hatoyama of Japan did come to the summit with a number. Two weeks earlier, fresh from his landmark election victory, the new prime minister had set aside the previous government’s goal of reducing emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, a target roughly in line with the numbers being debated in Washington. In its place, he declared a far more ambitious goal of 25 percent below 1990 levels – provided other major economies pony up their fair share.
Read full brief (pdf)
India is the world’s fourth largest economy and fifth largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, accounting for about 5% of global emissions. India’s emissions increased 65% between 1990 and 2005 and are projected to grow another 70% by 2020. On a per capita basis, India’s emissions are 70% below the world average and 93% below those of the United States. As in many other countries, India has a number of policies that, while not driven by climate concerns, contribute to climate mitigation by reducing or avoiding GHG emissions.
For more details on policies and measures related to climate change in India, please read our India Policy Brief (pdf).
Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Delhi, India
Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Ranjan Bose and K.S. Nesamani, Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI)
Geetam Tiwari, Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi
Daniel Sperling, Mark Delucchi, and Lorien Redmond, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis
Lee Schipper, International Energy Agency
Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries are increasing most rapidly in the transportation sector. Even people with low incomes are meeting their need for mobility, and projected income growth over the next two decades suggests that many more will acquire personal modes of transportation. How this will affect the earth's climate is a great concern.
In Delhi, India, transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions are expected to soar. There are policy and technology choices that could significantly lower the emissions growth rate while increasing mobility, improving air quality, reducing traffic congestion, and lowering transport and energy costs. To realize these benefits, vision, leadership, and political will must be brought to bear. Delhi has high vehicle ownership rates for the city's income level, increasing congestion, poor air quality, poor safety conditions, and insufficient coordination among the responsible government institutions. Travelers in Delhi desire transportation services, reflected by the increasing numbers of inexpensive but highly polluting scooters and motorcycles.
This report creates two scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions from Delhi's transportation sector in 2020. It finds:
- Greenhouse gas emissions quadruple in the high-GHG, or business-as-usual, scenario; but only double in the low scenario.
- Transportation policies are readily available that will not only slow emissions growth, but also significantly improve local environmental, economic, and social conditions.
- Improved technology would maximize the efficiency of automobiles, buses, and other modes of transportation and could play a key role in reducing emission increases.
- Keeping many travel mode options available - including minicars and new efficient scooters and motorcycles - will help individuals at various income levels meet their mobility needs.
- The time to act is now. The issues facing Delhi represent opportunities for improvement, but the longer authorities wait to address transportation inefficiencies, the more difficult and expensive it will be to produce a positive outcome.
Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Delhi, India is the first report in a five-part series examining transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. The report findings are based on (1) a regression model developed by TERI to forecast future increases in vehicle ownership and travel by different modes and (2) a Lifecycle Energy Use and Emissions Model developed by the Institute of Transportation Studies at U.C.-Davis which estimates greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
The Pew Center gratefully acknowledges Anita Ahuja of Conserve, Ralph Gakenheimer of MIT, and Michael Walsh, an independent transportation consultant, for their review of earlier drafts.
Delhi, India is a rapidly expanding megacity. Like many other cities its size, Delhi faces urban gridlock and dangerous levels of air pollution. Vehicle ownership is still a fraction of that in industrialized countries, but remarkably high considering the population's relatively low income. Worldwide, energy use is increasing faster in the transport sector than in any other sector, and fastest of all in developing countries. From 1980 to 1997, transportation energy use and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased over 5 percent per year in Asia (excluding the former Soviet Union) and 2.6 percent in Latin America, compared to one percent growth in greenhouse gases from all sectors worldwide.
Delhi faces the same transportation, economic, and environmental challenges of other megacities. Population, motor vehicles, pollution, and traffic congestion are all increasing. Air pollution levels greatly exceed national and World Health Organization health-based standards, and transportation is by far the largest source of pollution. In the past 30 years, Delhi's population more than tripled and the number of vehicles increased almost fifteenfold.
By 2000, Delhi had about 2.6 million motor vehicles - 200 for every 1,000 inhabitants, a rate far higher than most cities with similar incomes. Most of these vehicles are small, inexpensive motorcycles and scooters, rather than automobiles. This proliferation of vehicles in a relatively poor city indicates the strong desire for personal transport - a phenomenon observed virtually everywhere. Delhi is an example of how that desire can now be met with relatively low incomes.
Delhi is expected to continue growing at a rapid rate. Its population is expected to surpass 22 million by 2020. Motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, and motorized two- and three-wheelers, are expected to grow at an even faster rate. The domestic auto industry is predicting car sale increases of 10 percent per year. With an extensive network of roads and increasing income, there is every reason to expect vehicle sales and use to continue on a sharp, upward trajectory.