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India could lead Asian emission reduction

India can achieve the highest reduction in emission levels in Asia by 2050 by adopting agricultural practices that prevent the release of methane and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere, a Japanese expert has said.

“The reduction ratios of Japan, China, India, South Asia excluding India, and Small Island States in Oceania will be one percent, 26 percent, 33 percent, 15 percent and 25 percent respectively, indicating that India will have the largest reduction in Asia,” Shuzo Nishioka told IANS on the sidelines of the just-concluded APN Second Science-Policy Dialogue, South Asia on ‘Global Climate Change: Reducing Risk and Increasing Resilience’ in the Bhutanese capital.

The meet was organised by the Asia-Pacific Network (APN) for Global Change Research in collaboration with the Bhutanese National Environment Commission..

“To achieve the target of cutting global GHG emissions in half by 2050, mitigation measures in Asia are expected to play an important role. Asia should seize leap-frogging opportunities for low-carbon transition and we have outlined ten actions that can be taken by countries in the region,” Nishioka, secretary general of Japan’s International Research Network for Low Carbon Societies (LCS-Net), added, referring to the directions in the ‘Realising Low Carbon Asia-Contribution of Ten Actions’ report.

The agriculture sector contributed 14.3 percent of global manmade greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2004, Nishioka quoted the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) as saying.

The culprits in the agriculture sector are methane and nitrogen oxides.

For example, fields that are continuously flooded during the entire cultivation period emit more methane than fields that are not flooded all the time.

Nishioka said solutions like low carbon water management in rice paddies (mid-season drainage), highly efficient fertilizer application (split fertilization et al) and residue management are some of the components suggested in the report.

Additionally, he said, the methane gas emitted from manure should be actively utilized as an energy source.

Citing the IPCC study, Nishioka said with the introduction of low emission agricultural technology, GHG reductions will be achieved after 2020.

The level of emissions in 2050 will be reduced to 2.3 GtCO2e (gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent) which is 91 percent of the level in 2005.

Carbon dioxide equivalent is an indicator of how much global warming a given type and amount of greenhouse gas may cause using carbon dioxide as a reference.

In 2005, GHG emissions from Asia accounted for approximately 38 percent of global emissions and this is projected to double in 2050 if efforts are not made towards achieving Low Carbon Societies, Nishioka said.

Showing the Asian way ahead to the global dilemma, Nishioka said progressing to LCSs means reducing emissions globally and Asia will play an important role in the process.

In fact, the contribution of the agriculture sector to the overall reduction of GHG emissions in Asia will be 10 percent.

“If we look region-wise in Asia, reduction in the agriculture sector will contribute 19 percent of the total reduction in India, making it the action with the third-highest contribution in that country, the highest being reduction in energy systems, followed by resources and materials,” Nishioka said.

Underlining the fact that Asia is ready to make its due contribution to global climate stabilisation, Joyashree Roy, coordinator of the Global Change Programme at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University and a participant at the dialogue, said developing countries need to opt for low carbon growth route rightaway to avoid long-term cost burdens.

“Unlike developed countries, the challenge for South Asia is not to make the hard choice of reversing the high carbon growth path to low carbon growth path but it is the matter of easier choice for new low carbon growth path now, to avoid any long-term cost burden,” Roy, a contributor to the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winning IPCC

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