An Indian household emits an average of 6,505 kg of CO2 a year with the per capita emission in urban households found to be 30 per cent more than that of their rural counterparts while the rich emitted at least 300 per cent more CO2 than the poor, says a study.
Four researchers from the Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC) studied households in 13 locations across the country, including Bengaluru and Mangaluru to assess the household carbon footprint of the country. The primary data on consumption was put into the filter of socio-economic classes, agro-ecological regions and rural-urban divide to understand the major factors that influence emissions.
On average, energy (39 per cent) and travel (20 per cent) had a major share in the carbon footprint (CF) followed by waste (15 per cent) and food (14 per cent). However, differences were clear when researchers compared the rich with the poor and the urban with the rural households.
Households where the annual income was Rs 1 lakh had a per capita CF of 1,158 kg CO2 a year compared to the 4,768 kg CO2 per capita CF of those with income above Rs 30 lakh.
“An increase in households’ annual expenditure by Rs 1000 results in an increase in 8.83 kg CO2 emission of total household CF,” the study said, reiterating that travel, energy and food contributed to such an increase.
The consumption behaviour showed the line that divides rural and urban households. The per capita basic emissions in rural, peri-urban and urban areas was estimated at 1,275 kg CO2, 1,331 kg CO2 and 1,656 kg Co 2, respectively. The study highlighted the increased consumption of milk and meat in urban zones and the use of biomass as a fuel in rural areas as major contributing factors.
The researchers said there was no need to curtail emissions from any of the consumption heads of the households belonging to low and medium-income groups with annual income less than Rs 10 lakh. These are the groups whose CF, especially in matters like food, was found to be very low in most of the households in rural and peri-urban regions. However, opportunities for development should be planned to secure their nutritional security in the coming days, it said.
ISEC professor Sunil Nautiyal, who worked with Mrinalini Goswami, Ranjeet Kishan and A Premkumar, said considering the link between economic wellbeing and carbon emission, they recommended several measures for a sustainable transition.