Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising, the energy sector being the single largest category of emissions increases since 1990.
Calendar year 1990 is the internationally accepted base year of sector-specific emissions inventories. Simultaneously, air pollution is adversely affecting most Asian cities, causing both urban and rural populations to suffer adverse health impacts such as asthma and upper respiratory infections. India and China, two of the world's most economically active and populous countries, are projected to experience rapid growth in annual emissions of both greenhouse gases and air pollution well beyond the year 2020. These two rapidly developing countries are preparing for annual economic growth rates of seven percent or more through 2030. Unless economic growth is decoupled from atmospheric emissions the compounding effect of greenhouse gases and ambient air pollutants in the Earth's atmosphere will have detrimental local and global effects by the year 2030. Many of the Asian cities will be plagued by high particulate matter concentrations and the global climate will pass beyond the tipping point of reversibility. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries of the world are divided into two distinct categories - Annex 1 countries like the United States or Western Europe and non-Annex 1 countries like India, China, and Pakistan. Within the UNFCCC, Annex 1 countries are required to conduct an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis, non-Annex 1 countries (developing countries) do not have the same emissions inventory obligations and therefore, limited data availability makes estimating greenhouse gas emissions from the large developing countries difficult.
Likewise, estimating air pollution concentrations is equally or even more difficult due to the complex nature of different ambient air pollutants and atmospheric chemical reactions or interactions. This thesis focuses on efforts to obtain and project emissions of both categories of pollutants through the year 2030 in the world's most populous democratic non-Annex 1 country, India. The thesis topic will be covered in a fashion that parallels the author's career path. The thesis begins with quantitative publications that demonstrate the author's involvement in resolving some of the challenges associated with estimating the air pollution and greenhouse gas reduction benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures within a dynamic electricity grid. Then the thesis integrates work that was performed for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) involving an international capacity building project focused on assessing street-level ambient air pollution concentrations and analytical methods in Hyderabad, India. The thesis culminates with an analytical description of the process required for developing the Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution INteractions and Synergies (GAINS-Asia) mesoscale co-benefits model for India, China, and Pakistan. The GAINS-Asia project is timely research given the current climate change policy focus on developing a post-2012 successor to the Kyoto Protocol. The GAINS-Asia project was generously sponsored by the European Commission. Throughout this thesis the author will explore the field of co-benefits with a primary focus on energy efficiency related emission reductions within the Indian subcontinent. Different approaches for analyzing air pollution and global climate change policies are discussed within the context of building intellectual capacity within this rapidly growing Asian sub-region. Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing at rates that parallel economic development. In 2007 or early 2008 India will overtake Russia as the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world behind the China and the United States. India's urban air quality is also deteriorating as inefficient fossil fuel consumption underpins the rapid economic development. Policy solutions must come from within India but the analytical tools and policy analysis can be conducted through multilateral capacity building projects. The interface between environmental policy and science is the focus of this thesis and has been the heart of the author's work for more than a decade.
In order to decouple air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the rapidly growing energy sector, India must adopt aggressive demand-side energy efficiency measures while simultaneously implementing stringent air pollution regulations. Section 6 (Development of the GAINS-Asia Model) is the capstone of this thesis. This Section describes the development of the GAINS-Asia integrated assessment model which is the ideal tool for analyzing demand-side energy management within the context of different air pollution control schemes. Plausible business-as-usual and alternative energy scenarios have been established with the help of Indian partners. Time will judge whether the GAINS-Asia modeling platform will serve as a useful policy making tool for the Government of India. Time will also determine the trajectory of future greenhouse gas emission trajectories. The global climate and future generations will be the recipient of the verdict.