Carbon emissions

Carbon Inequality

Carbon inequality disproportionately burdens developing and under-developed regions. It further marginalizes low-income communities and deteriorates the climate. To address this issue, it is essential that countries show greater commitment and dedication to reducing carbon emissions including transitioning to renewable energy, implementing sustainable development practices, and providing support to vulnerable communities.

Carbon inequality refers to the disproportionate distribution of carbon emissions and their impact on individuals and communities. The issue is particularly relevant in today’s world, as the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events, and crop failures, disproportionately affect low-income countries. Also, while many developing and under-developed regions have lower levels of carbon emissions, they also tend to have fewer resources and infrastructure to address the impacts of climate change. Thus, these regions are left to deal with the consequences of higher emissions from their developed counterparts, such as more frequent and severe natural disasters, crop failures, and water shortages. In 2019, the top 10 emitters of CO2 were China, the United States, India, Russia, Japan, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Germany, accounting for more than 70% of global emissions (World Bank, 2020).

Carbon emissions inequality

One recent example of carbon inequality is the case of Flint, Michigan. Flint, a predominantly African American city, has been dealing with a water crisis since 2014 when the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The new water source was not properly treated, leading to high levels of lead contamination in the water supply. This contamination has had a significant impact on the health and well-being of Flint residents, particularly children, who have experienced developmental delays and other health problems as a result of the contaminated water.

Flint’s water crisis is an example of environmental injustice, as the city’s predominantly African American population has been disproportionately affected by the contamination of their water supply. The root cause of the crisis is linked to the city’s poor economic conditions, which have been exacerbated by decades of disinvestment, deindustrialization, and racial discrimination.

Another example of carbon inequality is the impact of climate change on small island developing states (SIDS). SIDS are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to their small size, limited resources, and low-lying coastal areas. Rising sea levels and increased frequency of natural disasters, such as typhoons and hurricanes, threaten the livelihoods, homes, and infrastructure of SIDS residents.

One specific case is the Maldives, which is projected to become one of the first countries to be completely submerged beneath the sea. The Maldives is a low-lying country made up of 1,192 coral islands, with a total land area of 298 square kilometres, and a population of around 540,000 people. Its economy is mainly dependent on tourism and fishing, which will be severely impacted by climate change.

These examples illustrate the ways in which carbon inequality disproportionately affects marginalized communities and low-income countries. To address this issue, it is essential that we take action to reduce carbon emissions and invest in measures to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. This includes transitioning to renewable energy, implementing sustainable development practices, and providing support to vulnerable communities.

India’s response to Carbon Emissions:

India took significant steps to address emissions.

One example of India’s efforts to address carbon inequality is the country’s ambitious renewable energy goals. In 2015, India committed to generating 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and the country has made significant progress toward this goal. As of 2020, India has an installed renewable energy capacity of over 84 GW, with a target to achieve 175 GW by 2022. This includes significant investment in solar and wind energy, which is helping to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Also, the Indian government’s focus on electric vehicles (EVs) as a means of reducing emissions from transportation is commendable. The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) was launched in 2013 with the goal of having at least 30% of vehicles on the road to be electric by 2030. To achieve this target, the government has been implementing several policy measures and subsidies to promote the adoption of EVs.

A specific case study of India’s renewable energy efforts is the state of Gujarat. Gujarat is a leader in renewable energy in India, with the highest installed capacity of solar power in the country. The state has implemented several policies to promote renewable energy, including a feed-in-tariff policy and a renewable energy certificate (REC) trading mechanism. These policies have attracted significant investment in the state’s renewable energy sector and have helped to reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels.

It is important to note that India still has a long way to go to meet its renewable energy targets and to fully transition to a low-carbon economy. While several countries are making efforts to reduce emissions, there is a need to show greater commitment and dedication. A report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate found that subsidies for fossil fuels totalled $400 billion per year in 2019, while subsidies for renewable energy totalled only $100 billion per year. These subsidies not only perpetuate the use of fossil fuels but also create a financial barrier to the adoption of renewable energy sources. Thus, India along with other countries having higher emissions should further tighten regulations, incentivize low-emission practices, and disincentivize projects with high emissions to stop disproportionately burdening under-developed regions.


  1. “Environmental Justice in Flint” (2019), The National Wildlife Federation
  2. “Climate change and small island developing states” (2019), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  3. “Maldives: A sinking nation” (2019), Al Jazeera
  4. “India’s Renewable Energy Progress” (2021), International Energy Agency
  5. “Electric vehicles in India: Current status and future prospects” (2019), Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
  6. “Gujarat: A leader in renewable energy in India” (2018), The Economic Times
  7. “India’s National Electric Mobility Mission Plan” (2013), Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India
Abhishek Raj | Assistant Manager – M&E


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