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India says its carbon emissions not harming world

Country's environment minister says emissions are insignificant compared with those of richer nations.

India, considered to be one of the world's top polluters, said Thursday that it is not doing any harm to the world's atmosphere despite increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Experts say unchecked greenhouse gas emissions could see global temperatures rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius in the next 50 years and could result in .

While India is not required under the Kyoto Protocol to cut emission levels at this stage, experts say its emissions are rising because of its rapid economic development and could become a significant contributor to global warming.

But the country's environment minister told parliament that India's emissions are insignificant compared with those of richer nations that should take the lead in curbing greenhouse gases.

"India is very little in terms of emissions and we are not the biggest polluters when compared to the developed nations," said Environment Minister A. Raja.

"We are not doing any harm to the entire world. We are, in spite of the developmental activities taking place in this country, very categorical that our emissions are below 3 percent, which is within limits," he said, referring to India's percentage contribution to total global emissions.

According to a World Bank survey in May, carbon emissions from two of the world's fastest growing economies, China and India, rose steeply over the past decade.

India increased carbon dioxide emissions by 33 percent between 1992 and 2002, said the bank's "Little Green Data Book," a survey of mankind's global environmental impact.

New Delhi says it must use more energy to lift its population from poverty and that its per-capita emissions are a fraction of those in rich states that have burned fossil fuels unhindered since the Industrial Revolution.

But environmentalists say India does not need to invest in carbon-intensive industries.

"We understand that the country is on a development path and that India still needs to provide energy to much of its population," said K. Srinivas, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace India.

"But that doesn't mean we need to rely on primary sources of energy like coal to do that. There are so many other sources of renewable energy which we should be focusing more on."

According to figures from the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, the top five sources of greenhouse gases were the United States, China, Russia, India and Japan.

The United States' per-capita greenhouse emissions were 24 metric tons based on 2004 data. China was 4 metric tons and India 2 metric tons based on 2000 data, the secretariat said.

India's annual emissions were growing about 2 percent to 3 percent, said Srinivas.

The Indian subcontinent is expected to be one of the most seriously affected regions in the world by global warming, which will mean more frequent and more severe natural disasters such as floods and droughts, more disease and poor crop yields.

Officials say India is taking steps to use energy more efficiently and is curbing the use of pollutants, which harm the atmosphere, but it needs more financial resources and the transfer of new technologies to achieve this.