Indian forests are major carbon sinks, finds analysis

The statistical revelation—to be unveiled by the Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia at Dehradun next week—is the first ever analysis on the potential of Indian forests to absorb carbon dioxide.

Indian carbon dioxide inventory is a little dated. The country’s total carbon dioxide emission is about 1,228 million tonnes equivalent of carbon dioxide in 1994.

This was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2004 as India’s first national communication—an obligation for India under the Kyoto Protocol. Since 2007, the Centre is preparing the second communication. Out of the total emission of 1,228 million tonnes, the energy sector (including power, transport and industry) contribute 744 MT whereas contribution from the agriculture sector in 344 MT. 
Industrial process is another significant carbon emitter with 103 MT. Though land use change and municipal and solid wastes emit carbon dioxide, their contribution is limited.
India’s rapid economic development in the last decade has made it one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide.

According to an analysis made by Global Carbon Project, an independent technical body on carbon dioxide emission, between 1992 and 2007, India’s carbon dioxide emission levels have gone up by 103 per cent, next to China only.

Such a high emission level cornered India with the US and the European Union pressurising New Delhi for emission cap. To thwart such pressure, the government has decided to showcase the potential of Indian forests as a carbon sink. 

When the world meets in Copenhagen to finalise a global emission reduction treaty, Indian negotiators will lay stress on securing incentives for “conservation, afforestation and sustainable management of forests.”

Improving the forestry sector and expanding the green cover remains one of the focal-points of the UPA II. The latest stimulus came from the Union Cabinet last week when it approved pumping an additional Rs 1,069 crore into forestry.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on July 31 sanctioned Rs 600 crore for intensifying forest management and building additional capacity in forestry.

The new package comes in the wake of unlocking an Rs 11,000-crore afforestation fund which remained in the banks for seven years and additional Rs 500 crore Central assistance to the states for regenerating forest in degraded forest.

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