It is well known that carbon emissions have played a key role in what has come to be known as the global warming phenomena. Global warming is caused by human activities, which alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere through a build-up of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and particulate matter.
If these emissions remain unchecked, the steadily rising global temperatures will cause sea-levels to rise, alter local weather conditions considerably, affect forests, crop yields and water supplies. They would also affect human health, flora and fauna, and alter ecosystems permanently.
Scientific evidence shows that global warming is responsible for environmental changes that can result in irreversible climate change – extreme and erratic weather events that can severely impact life.
Cities symbolize our culture, lifestyles and aspirations. Our carbon intensive ‘ways of living’ play an important role in how our cities exist or develop. Since half of the world’s population started to live in cities by 2007, a sizeable portion of greenhouse gas emissions is generated in a few energy-intensive cities. According to the Clinton Foundation, large cities are responsible for about 75 per cent of the greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere.
So it is imperative that the extent and impact of these emissions from cities is understood, so as to formulate policies and solutions to mitigate them, and address climate change at local levels.
With such an objective, the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-South Asia undertook a project to learn the ‘Energy and Carbon Emissions Profiles of 54 South Asian Cities’ during 2007-08, and collected relevant data with the cooperation of the individual cities’ Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and their utilities.
The report hence produced in 2009 provides an inventory of energy consumption and carbon emissions data of 54 South Asian cities, which include 41 cities from India, 4 cities each from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, 3 from Nepal and 2 from Bhutan. For each of the 54 selected cities, sector-wise emissions data was summarized.
Emissions in Indian Cities
While focusing on emissions from Indian cities, for each Indian city, data was collected from various sources, including those mentioned in Table 1.
Table 2 summarizes the per capita carbon emissions in the selected Indian cities, extracted from the ICLEI report. It clearly indicates that majority of the emissions in India (at 33 per cent) are industrial in nature, followed by residential emissions (at 28 per cent) and transportation (at 24 per cent).
On the basis of this data collected, we can summarize carbon emissions (in absolute terms) in the selected 41 Indian cities, and come up with the Top 10 Carbon Emitting Cities of India.