Every year, the discourse on emissions finds itself mired in controversy as leaders from the West often seek to school the developing nations, especially those from the global south, on reducing emissions or being the major cause of it.

By Swarajya Staff

Recently, former South Carolina governor and Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley sparked a row with her statement that India is a major polluter and a concern which needs to be addressed.However, the data consistently shows a different picture, in stark contrast to their claims, often uncovering the steep irony and their hypocrisy.

Here’s why Haley must prioritise addressing the United States’ catastrophic record while sparing India from unnecessary lectures.

One, India’s per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are significantly lower than the global average.

With 2.4 tCO2e (tonne carbon dioxide equivalent), India’s emissions were well below the worldwide average of 6.3 tCO2e, a recent UN report released ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, revealed.

According to the report, the US had the highest emissions at 14 tCO2e, followed by the Russian Federation at 13 tCO2e, China at 9.7 tCO2e, Brazil and Indonesia at around 7.5 tCO2e each, and the European Union at 7.2 tCO2e.

India’s emissions were approximately half of the G20 average. Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI 2023) puts India at best among G-20 countries as far as climate change and emissions are concerned.

Two, US and Europe are responsible for historical emmissions.

In terms of historical cumulative CO2 emissions (excluding land use, land-use change, and forestry), India’s contribution stood at only 3 per cent. The US and the EU accounted for 25 per cent and 17 per cent of total fossil CO2 emissions from 1850 to 2019 respectively.

The US has emitted more CO2 than any other country to date, which is at around 400 billion tonnes since 1751. This is twice more than China — the world’s second largest contributor.

China contributed 13 per cent, the Russian Federation 7 per cent; in fact, least developed countries only contributed 0.5 per cent to historical CO2 emissions from fossil fuel and industry between 1850 and 2019. Ironically, the US continued to have the highest emissions, globally. The responsibility for historical emissions lies with the US and Europe.

Recognising the significance of history is crucial, as the cumulative amount of carbon dioxide emitted since the beginning of the industrial revolution remains closely intertwined with the 1.2°C of warming that has already transpired.

Three, India is making major strides towards green energy.

Not only is India’s emissions low, but India continues to make major strides towards green energy. For starters, solar and wind dominated India’s power generation capacity growth in 2022, accounting for 92 per cent of total capacity additions, while coal accounted for only 5 per cent.

According to the data, solar and wind added 15.7 GW of new generation capacity in 2022, 17 per cent more than additions in 2021. Coal added less than 1 GW, showing a 78 per cent decrease in additions in comparison to 2021.

Nikki Haley’s claims labeling India as a major polluter are baseless and hypocritical. The data unequivocally demonstrates that India’s per capita emissions are significantly lower than the global average, while the US and Europe shoulder the responsibility for the majority of historical emissions.

Moreover, India is making remarkable progress in embracing green energy, with substantial advancements in solar and wind power. Haley should confront the glaring failures of the US instead of unfairly targeting India with unwarranted lectures.

This article first appeared in www.swarajyamag.com and it belongs to them.