Remove barriers to India, other nations going low-carbon ? study

by Nita Bhalla | @nitabhalla | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 2 June 2011 11:40 GMT

Emerging countries now produce more than half the world's greenhouse gases and limiting their emissions will be key to curbing climate change

NEW DELHI (AlertNet) - Barriers preventing the transfer of clean technologies to help nations like India adopt low-carbon development  must be removed if the world is to successfully address climate change, a new study has warned.

With a population of 1.2 billion people, an economy growing at 8 to 9 percent annually and surging energy demand to sustain such growth, India has become the world's third largest carbon polluter, after China and the United States.

Emerging countries now emit more than half of the world's greenhouse gases - and that portion continuing to rise - and countries like India need quick and affordable access to technology in the West to help them hold the line on  their emissions.

 But challenges exist, according to a new study by London-headquartered think-tank SustainAbility, which focuses on the problems of helping India's power generation sector go low-carbon. 

"Technology is believed to hold the key to a high growth, low carbon future," the report said. What is needed is "unimpeded transfer and absorption" of low-carbon technologies, with the aim of putting developing countries on low-carbon or even zero-carbon growth paths, it said.


While India has the infrastructure and capability to absorb such technology, the study said, such transfers may not happen unless trade barriers are lowered, balanced and fair intellectual property rights protections are put in place and money  is made available to fund the high cost of technology transfer.

India is under growing pressure to cut its surging carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change. While per-capita emissions are still low, demand for electricity and fossil fuels is increasing as the middle class clamours for more cars and television sets, and better housing.

Last month, a government panel on low-carbon strategies said  India could reduce the growth of carbon emissions by up to 35 percent by 2020 over 2005 levels, but only if it gets international finance and technology.

"Given the high initial cost of low-carbon technologies and the long pay-back periods involved," said the study, "availability and cost of finance is critical to procure the best available technologies."

The study, funded by ActionAid India and World Wildlife Fund India, also said trade barriers will need to come down, in particular to give Indian renewable energy manufacturers access to developed country markets.

"This is simply not happening for the Indian wind power manufacturers who have encountered barriers in the form of tariffs, standards and also movement of professionals in the developed countries," the report said.

Another problem is that technology owners in the West fear inadequate intellectual property laws and regulation in developing countries such as India could lead to their rights being violated and their technologies copied.

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