The Need for a Carbon Policy for Indian Agriculture

Why has Carbon Policy been in the Limelight?

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference will be hosted by the United Kingdom in Glasgow. It will be held from October to November 12, and its main aim will be to achieve the maximum points of the Paris Agreement’s goals. Climate finance and the transfer of green technologies at sustainable cost would be the primary focus of the UN Climate Change Conference.

While there is no shortage of carbon emissions in the world, the world’s nations are still confused over who should take the blame for it. According to some countries, the developed nations should take the responsibility of cleaning up the mess since they emitted much more carbon than developing countries before it became a problem.

In a way, this claim is backed by data as well. One way to find this is the emission of carbon-based on per capita and emission intensity of GDP. According to this, the USA has the most carbon emission per capita at 15.24 tonnes, followed by Russia at 11.12 tonnes.

On the other hand, India emits carbon at just 1.8 tonnes per capita, which dwarfs the average per capita emissions of the world at 4.4 tonnes; this proves that the high and middle-income countries have a lot more responsibility towards eradicating carbon emissions than low-income countries.

Indian Carbon Policy For Agriculture

Issues for India

If we go by the data of Global Carbon Atlas, India is at third rank in the world when it comes to emission of total Greenhouse gas. Every year, 2.6 billion tonnes (Bt) CO2eq of greenhouse gas is emitted by India, which is next only to the USA (5.4Bt) CO2eq and China (10Bt) CO2eq.

The next in the ranks are Russia (1.7Bt) CO2eq and Japan (1.2Bt) CO2eq. Talking about the Global Carbon Atlas, it is an online user platform where one can roughly measure regional and global carbon data that arises from both natural processes and man-made.

Delhi is the most polluted capital city anywhere in the World; this is based on the World Air Quality report -2020. Moreover, 22 of the World’s 30 most polluted cities are in India, which signifies the horrible pollution conditions prevalent in India.

India also ranks seventh in the list of countries most severely affected by extreme weather conditions. This resulted in a huge loss of $69 billion (PPP) in 2019, according to the reports of Germanwatch (2021). So, as we can see, abnormal weather conditions result in an economic loss that has an adverse effect on the GDP of a country.

Emission through Different Sectors including Agriculture in India

When it comes to the Indian context, the highest carbon emission happens through the energy sector. It accounts for almost half of the total emission of India at 44%! The manufacturing/construction sector comes next at 18%, followed by land, forest, and agriculture at 14%. Wastage industry, transport, and Industrial sector fill up the remaining portion of carbon emission.

However, one important thing to note is that share of emissions in agriculture has reduced at a decent pace to almost half in around 22 years. It fell from 28% in 1994 to around 14% in 2016, which is great news for India since a large portion of rural India still relies on agriculture for their livelihood.

Corrective Measures

The new carbon policy should take all accounts into measure before implementation. It should not be wholly about reducing carbon emissions but also about awarding farmers through carbon credits. Also, it should be tradable globally.

Another effective method of reduction in carbon emission in rice fields is the use of direct-seeded rice and alternative wet and dry practices. Less use of fertilizer in agricultural soil, since they are the single largest source of NO2 (Nitrous Oxide), can also help reduce carbon emission in India. There should be an encouragement to use soluble fertilizers, which will have a negligible release of NO2.

Fertigation is another way by which carbon emission can be brought down in India. For this, the Government can provide subsidies and give incentives to farmers. Another area that can be focused on in this regard is switching away from the harmful practices from rice to maize/corn, i.e., crops that use less water to grow.

Hence, it can be said that the carbon policy of India should make sure that while the carbon emission is deducted, agriculture becomes climate resistant to help them survive even the most extreme weather.