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Climate in Crisis: Why is India so important in the fight against global warming?

India will be a key player at the Paris UN climate change conference. Credit: ITV News

Ahead of the upcoming “Paris 2015” UN climate change conference, ITV News travelled to India, a country which will hold the balance of power at the negotiations.

But why is India so crucial to efforts to improve the health of our planet, so much so that President Obama has alluded that it could be the deal maker or breaker in Paris?

Scientists and politicians generally agree that we must curb global emissions to avoid dangerous climate change by the end of the century.

The route to achieving that ambition is a mix of political, economic and social negotiations around how fast countries can develop, the kinds of green technology they will be able to use and who foots the bill.

India is a nation which embodies all the major negotiating points world leaders will try to tackle at COP21.

India currently produces 7% of global emissions. Credit: ITV News

The country is the world’s third biggest greenhouse gas emitter and faces the challenge of reducing carbon emissions while sustaining the economic growth needed to reduce poverty.

New Prime Minister Narendra Modi must deal with the huge tension associated with this balancing act.

It is the same tension affecting the whole developing world, with billions of people facing similar choices about how to get out of poverty in a sustainable,environmentally-friendly way.

India’s voice is very important on this issue.

Perhaps no country could potentially be more affected by the impacts of climate change and no country is going to be more important in moving forward a strong agreement than India

– Barack Obama, January 2015

What India does in Paris will become the model for developing nations.

It is expected to negotiate hard for help and investment in technology so it can follow a more sustainable path to generating electricity, as well as use its massive coal reserves and the historic pollution by the West as its bargaining chips.

India’s use of its coal is particularly important – if it burns it all, it will be virtually impossible for the world as a whole to reduce its carbon emissions.

India also highlights how climate change is not just an environmental story that will affect the world far in the future.

As ITV News discovered, there are many examples of the political, economic and social choices climate change is already enforcing upon huge numbers of people.

By 2028, India is expected to overtake China as the world’s most populated country. Credit: ITV News

INDIA IN NUMBERS

  • · By 2028, India is expected to overtake China as the world’s most populated country, with 1.45 billion people. As the population increases, so will the energy consumption, which is predicted to rise 132% by 2035.
  • · India currently produces 7% of global emissions. Already the world’s third biggest greenhouse gas emitter, this will rise due to energy demands that will result from population growth.
  • · An estimated 300 million Indians live with little or no light when the sun sets. A 2011 census claimed just 55% of rural homes use electricity as a primary source of lighting.
  • · India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 7.5% from January to March this year, faster than China’s.

Watch the first of Alok Jha’s “Climate in Crisis” reports from India on News at Ten on Tuesday from 10pm

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