In November 2021 during COP26, India published an updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) with a raised unconditional target of reducing the emissions intensity of the country’s GDP by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030. The previous target was 33-35%. Additionally, India announced a conditional target to increase non-fossil capacity in its power sector to 500 GW by 2030, subject to international support.
The conditional target, if enacted, would increase the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 116% above 2005 levels to 3.9 GtCO₂e/yr, excluding LULUCF. This means lower total emissions than the unconditional intensity target. However, the conditional target is not ambitious enough as it is in line with India’s current policy scenario.
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 it’s 1.5°C compatible domestic emission pathway will require substantial financial and other support from developed countries.
1.5°C compatible pathways see India reaching GHG emissions levels of 0.5-0.7 GtCO₂e/yr (excl. LULUCF) by 2050, and CO₂ emissions of 0-0.4 GtCO₂/yr by 2050, excluding LULUCF. This equals emissions reductions of 60-70% and 66-93%, respectively below 2005 levels.
On the road to net zero, India will need to develop its land-based sinks to compensate for its remaining emissions. In addition, international support will need to be provided for technological carbon dioxide removal approaches such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or direct air capture and storage (DAC).
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 yet submitted a long-term low emissions strategy.