The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gas gauge turns glare on rich
- High-earning households pollute four times more than poorer ones

New Delhi, Nov. 13: The divide over carbon dioxide emissions that drive global warming shows up not just across nations but also within India, international environment organisation Greenpeace said today.

An average high-earning Indian emits four times the carbon dioxide a low-income individual emits, Greenpeace said after a survey of 819 households across India’s four metros and eight towns.

On an average, a person in India with a monthly income higher than Rs 30,000 emits 4.5 times more carbon dioxide into the air compared to a person with income below Rs 3,000, the survey has revealed.

“The government must not hide India’s emissions behind the vast poor population,” G. Ananthpadmanabhan, the executive director of Greenpeace India, said. “The emissions of the higher income groups in India need to be regulated so that the poor and underprivileged also obtain the carbon space to develop,” he said.

India’s per capita carbon dioxide emission is only 1.67, a small fraction of the per capita emission in the US (23.1), Russia (13.5), Germany (12.3) or UK (10). In climate change negotiations, India has been arguing for a system of differentiated responsibility in which the largest emitters would have to play a bigger role in mitigating climate change.

But Greenpeace said that India, while maintaining pressure on the developed countries to cut their emissions, should also “do its share to mitigate climate change”.

It has called on the government to introduce technologies to improve efficiency in the electricity sector, increase the share of gas for energy programmes and expand solar and other renewable energy initiatives.

“We need mandatory standards for the efficiency of household and power appliances. We cannot rely on voluntary compliance alone,” Ananthpadmanabhan said.

“An average European can watch TV twice as longer, wash clothes twice and use the AC twice as long as an Indian and still use the same electricity because of high efficiencies,” he added.

Greenpeace has also asked the government to revise its power expansion plans, turning away from planned mega-coal plants that generate 4,000MW and opt instead for wind, solar and biomass units.

The government has projected that renewable energy will contribute 23,000MW of total power demand of about 280,000MW by 2017, but Greenpeace has said renewables can deliver 90,000MW by 2017.

Energy experts have said wind and solar energy have limited potential because existing levels of technology make them economically unviable for mass power generation.

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