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What is Indiaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Last update: October 2021

Ambition gap

Indiaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−150%−100%−50%0%50%100%150%200%19902010203020502070
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
2067
Reference year
2005
1.5°C emissions level
−16%
NDC (40% non-fossil capacity)
+146%
NDC (intensity of GDP)
+176%
Ambition gap
−162%
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

*Net zero emissions excl LULUCF is achieved through deployment of BECCS; other novel CDR is not included in these pathways

Summary

India’s NDC sets an unconditional target for the emissions intensity of its GDP – aiming for a 33-35% reduction from 2005 levels. Additionally, it pledged conditional target to increase non-fossil capacity in its power sector to 40% by 2030, subject to international support.

1 Climate Action Tracker. India. CAT September 2020 Update. (2020).

2 Climate Action Tracker. India – Assessment – 15/09/2021 | Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

3 Climate Transparency. Climate Transparency Report. (2020).

4 Climate Action Tracker. Data & Trends. (2017).

5 IEA. India – Countries & Regions – IEA. (2018).

6 Observatory of Economic Complexity. OEC India country page. Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC). (2019).

7 Central Electricity Authority. All India Installed Capacity. (2021).

8 Central Electricity Authority. National Electricity Plan. (2018).

9 Kuramochi, T. et al. Ten key short-term sectoral benchmarks to limit warming to 1.5°C. Clim. Policy (2017).

10 NITI Aayog. ETHANOL BLENDING IN INDIA 2020-25 ROADMAP FOR Report of the Expert Committee. (2021).

11 Kukreti, I. Union Budget 2021-22: India to launch Hydrogen Energy Mission. (2021).

12 IEA. World Energy Balances 2019. (2020).

13 IEA. CO2 Emissions Statistics. (2019).

14 CEA. REPORT ON OPTIMAL GENERATION CAPACITY MIX FOR 2029-30. (2020).

15 Central Electricity Authority. Annual Generation Report. (2020).

16 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches.

17 The generation share was translated to approximate capacity shares based on an assumption of a similar split across technologies as the 175 GW target.

18 Analysed pathways assume the development of negative emissions technologies – BECCS – thus the year of zero emissions provided might be reached earlier than when 100% of the power mix is based from renewables and represent a ‘net zero emissions’ year.

India’s conditional target, if enacted, would increase GHG emissions by 146-152% above 2005 levels to emissions levels of 4.7-4.8 GtCO₂e/yr, excluding LULUCF. While still not achieving reductions, if realised, this target would see lower total emissions than its intensity target.

As of October 2021, India has not yet communicated an updated, more ambitious NDC, missing the 2021 NDC Synthesis Report deadline ahead of COP26.

For India’s domestic emissions to be in line with 1.5°C, they would need to peak soon and reduce as early as possible, aiming for a 2030 emissions level of 1.6 GtCO₂e/yr, equivalent to 16% below 2005 levels (range of 23-1%) below 2005 levels.

It needs to be emphasised that closing the gap between India’s current fair share as assessed by the Climate Action Tracker and its 1.5°C compatible domestic emission pathway will require support from developed countries.

1.5°C compatible pathways see India reaching GHG emissions levels of 0.4-0.7 GtCO₂e/yr (excl. LULUCF) by 2050, and CO₂ emissions of 0-0.2 GtCO₂/yr by 2050, excluding LULUCF. This equals emissions reductions of 65-77% and 86-98%, respectively below 2005 levels.16

On the road to net zero, the country will need to compensate its remaining emissions through the development of carbon dioxide removal approaches such as land sinks.

Our analysis shows that power sector may need to contribute up to 0.2 GtCO₂/yr negative emissions by mid-century to be on a 1.5°C pathway. However, this is dependent on the speed with which zero carbon technologies can be adopted before 2050. Pathways with renewable electricity shares near 80% in 2030 achieve the required emissions reductions to avoid negative emissions technologies.

India does not have a net zero target, nor has it submitted a long-term low emissions strategy.2

Power

Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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A 1.5°C compatible pathway would require the share of non-fossil power generation to reach 73-77% by 2030, much higher than the 40% specified in India’s conditional target. For electricity this translates to around 80-90% share of non-fossil electricity capacity.17

Both coal and gas would need to be phased out before 2040, with renewables reaching 90–100% to reach a decarbonised power sector by 2040. This stands in contrast with the country’s current plans to expand its coal capacity which puts the country at risk of locking itself into a carbon intensive pathway.2

Footnotes