India's greenhouse gas emissions grew 58 per cent between 1994 and 2007, official figures released on Tuesday showed, underlining the country's growing importance in the fight against climate change.
Emissions rose to 1.9 billion tonnes in 2007 versus 1.2 billion in 1994, with the industrial and transport sectors upping their share in Asia's third largest economy and confirming India's ranking among the world's top five carbon polluters.
By way of comparison, between 1994 and 2007, India added more than the entire emissions produced annually by Australia.
Figures in the government report, released by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh at a conference in New Delhi, show India is closing in on Russia, now the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, at nearly 2.2 billion tonnes in 2007.
Russia's emissions have been growing at a slower pace than those of India, whose energy-hungry economy has been expanding at about 8 percent a year as it tries to lift millions out of poverty.
This has propelled investment in coal-fired power stations, steel mills, cement plants and mining, as well as renewable energy.
"Interestingly, the emissions of the United States and China are almost four times that of India in 2007", Ramesh told the conference.
"It is also noteworthy that the energy intensity of India's GDP declined by more than 30 percent during the period 1994-2007 due to the efforts and policies that we are proactively putting into place. This is a trend we intend to continue," he said.
Energy intensity refers to the amount of energy used per unit of gross domestic product.
India has also set a carbon intensity reduction target of 20 to 25 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.
Data from 1994 was the last official report to the United Nations on India's emissions because, as a developing country, India is not obliged to make annual emissions declarations to the world body, unlike rich nations.
The latest U.N. emissions data for industrialised nations date to 2007.
Along with China and the United States, the world's top two greenhouse gas emitters, India is seen as crucial player in trying to agree on a broad U.N. climate pact to curb the growth of greenhouse gas emissions blamed for heating up the planet.
Emissions in developing nations, mainly from the rising consumption of coal, oil and gas, are growing quickly and are responsible for more than half of mankind's carbon pollution.
Scientists say the world needs to try to limit average global warming to within two degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change but that nations need to act quickly to avoid runaway growth in carbon emissions.