Indian think tanks launch interactive portal to estimate and analyse greenhouse gas emissions by industry and state

The new database will track greenhouse gas emissions in India. (Photo by Emma Jespersen)

The new database will track greenhouse gas emissions in India. (Photo by Emma Jespersen)

India is known to be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) leading to climate change, after China and the US. Who in India is emitting these gases, and how much? To what extent is India taking care of these emissions through its burgeoning renewable energy industry and through its afforestation programmes?

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has been coming up with these estimates for well over a decade now, and reporting the figures to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. But the ministry is opaque on where it gets these numbers, and how they are analysed.

Now independent think tanks have decided to have a complementary source of this information, where all the data and analyses will be in the public domain, open to feedback, correction, criticism, re-analysis and use.

Called the GHG Platform India, the nascent website provides GHG emissions data from various sectors such as power generation, heavy and light industry, waste generation, agriculture, forestry and other land use. Right now, it has numbers from 2007 to 2012 on carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

Transparent platform

To ensure transparency, the platform provides information about the methodology used for analysis, assumptions and complete datasets. It will also provide year-on-year time series for GHG emission estimates and analysis. The model was first developed by think tanks in Brazil and was called System for Estimation of Emissions of GHG (SEEG).

The think tanks that have come together to set up the platform are Vasudha Foundation, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability South Asia and World Resources Institute (WRI) India. Individual sectoral experts have been roped in as well.

Speaking at the launch, Srinivas Krishnaswamy, CEO of Vasudha Foundation, said, “We are in an era where we have to dig deep into different sectors for mitigating our carbon emissions and this database is an essential first step, for us to get an understanding of emissions by sector in detail; particularly, the sub-sector information.”

Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW, said, “CEEW has developed an independent estimate of India’s industrial emissions, using a bottom-up approach by assessing a wide range of fuel use, industrial process, and product use from more than two lakh industrial units. For a more robust and comprehensive GHG inventory assessment for industries, there is a need for an industry-wide survey focusing on energy consumption and bringing hitherto unregistered units into the fold of this exercise. This degree of rigour and transparency is essential if India has to defend its interests at climate negotiations.”

Mohammed Sahil Ali, Research Scientist from CSTEP, said, “Our analysis shows that despite all the renewable addition, emission intensity of India’s electricity sector has increased between 2006 and 2013 owing to high growth in relatively less efficient fossil (fuel)-based captive electricity generation.”

Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI (Global) and Executive Director, ICLEI South Asia, said, “Treatment and discharge of industrial wastewater contributes to 62% of GHG emissions from the country’s waste sector while domestic wastewater and solid waste disposal contribute 22% and 16% respectively. The disaggregated detailed information made available through this platform is useful to prioritise technologies for waste management and to identify those sectors which need our immediate attention.”

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