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Current situation

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

Emissions profile

India is the second most populous country in the world and undergoing rapid development, with GHG emissions tripling in the last three decades to reach more than 3 GtCO₂e/yr. Around three quarters of these emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels in the energy sector, around 15% from agriculture, and the remainder from industrial process emissions and waste.

Within the energy sector, electricity generation and industry are responsible for around 34% and 19% of emissions respectively, and transport for ~10%. The remaining ~10% is generated mostly in buildings (6%), agriculture (3%).

Per capita emissions levels of India remain low compared to the global average. However, they have steadily increased since 1990. In 2017, per capita emissions had increased to 2 tCO₂e, growing at around 3-4% per year.3,4 The global average is over 6 tCO₂e/capita.

A small but slowly growing emissions sink (-0.3 GtCO₂) comes from LULUCF.

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

2 IRENA. Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2020. (2021).

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

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

5 IEA. India – Countries & Regions – IEA. (2020).

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

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

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

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

13 IEA. World Energy Balances 2019. https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-balances-overview (2021).

14 IEA. CO2 Emissions Statistics. (2019).

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

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

17 Bureau of Energy Efficiency. ECBC Residential. (2020).

18 PIK. The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series. (2021).

19 Dasgupta, S., Van Der Salm, F. & Roy, J. Designing PAT as a Climate Policy in India: Issues Learnt from EU-ETS. Nature, Econ. Soc. Underst. Linkages 315–328 (2016) doi:10.1007/978-81-322-2404-4_16.

20 BEE. PAT scheme (Perform, Achieve and Trade scheme). (2018).

21 MoEFCC. India Third Biennial Update Report to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2021).

22 TERI. Green steel through hydrogen direct reduction. (2021).

23 Bhaskar, A., Assadi, M. & Somehsaraei, H. N. Decarbonization of the iron and steel industry with direct reduction of iron ore with green hydrogen. Energies 13, 1–23 (2020).

24 Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Notification G.S.R. 749(E). (2018).

25 Clean Energy Ministerial. EV30@30 campaign | Clean Energy Ministerial |EV30@30 campaign | Advancing Clean Energy Together. (2019).

26 Carpenter, S. India’s Plan To Turn 200 Million Vehicles Electric In Six Years. Forbes. (2019).

27 Economic Times. Bubble alert: India’s electric two wheeler industry maybe headed towards a glut by 2026, Auto News, ET Auto.

28 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.

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

30 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.

31 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.

Indiaʼs current GHG emissions

MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values

By sector

  • Power
  • Industry (energy use)
  • Transport
  • Buildings
  • Other
  • Fugitive emissions
  • Agriculture
  • Industry (processes)
  • Waste
  • LULUCF
Energy (74%)0

By gas

  • CO₂
  • CH₄
  • N₂O
  • Other
078%0

Sectors by gas

Energy
097%0
Agriculture
076%0
Industry (processes)
074%0

Energy system

Total primary energy use in India is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. In 2018, coal accounted for 45%, mostly used in the power sector and industry, followed by oil (25%) mostly used in transport, building and the agricultural sector.5 The majority of India’s coal use comes from domestic reserves, though oil is mostly imported. Refined petroleum is India’s largest export product.6 Share of biofuel in total primary energy use is 20%.

The country has prioritised the use of coal over gas in the past years. This includes (consumption) subsidies of around 10 billion USD over the period 2019-2020, which hamper the transition to renewable energy. India has a total of 200 GW of coal power plants installed today and is planning to increase this by another ~100 GW in coming years.

India has given a sustained effort through various policy response to increase the capacity of renewable energy generation, and as a result, installed capacity of renewables has increased to 94 GW in March 2021 from 39 GW in 2015, – but its share in primary energy supply is only 1%.7 In its National Electricity Plan, India has the goal to increase its renewable energy to 175 GW in 2022 and 450 GW in 2030.8

On the demand side, India has an efficiency programme for industry, which resulted in a modest cumulative 0.1 GtCO₂e saving between 2012 and 2019.9

India downscaled its earlier vision of a fully electric car market to a 30% share of sales of electric vehicles by 2030. If the share is not increased to 100% by 2035 in line with international benchmarks, this would lock in a significant share of the estimated half a gigatonne of carbon dioxide emissions from transport until at least 2050.10

The Government of India has advanced different targets and policy frameworks to introduce alternative fuel in transport sector to reduce emissions. These include the Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India 2020-25, which allows for blending of 20% ethanol in petrol.11 The government is also embarking on the production of hydrogen from renewable sources, with the Ministry of Finance launching the Hydrogen Energy Mission in February 2021.11,12 Indian rail transport, which accounts for less than 10% of India’s transport emissions, is planned to be net zero by 2030, achieved through full electrification.

Targets and commitments

Economy-wide targets

Target type

Other

NDC target

Unconditional NDC Target:

  • 45% reduction in the emissions intensity of its GDP by 2030 compared to 2005 level.
  • Additional (cumulative) LULUCF carbon sink of 2.5-3 GtCO₂e/yr by 2030 (emission reduction estimated at ~0.1-0.2 GtCO₂/yr).9

Conditional NDC Target:

  • Non-fossil share of cumulative power generation capacity 40% by 2030, subject to technology transfer and access to finance.9

Long-term target

  • Per capita emissions never to exceed those of the developed world.

Sector coverage

EnergyWasteAgricultureLULUCF

Greenhouse gas coverage

CO₂CH₄NF₃HFCsN₂OSF₆

Sectoral targets

Power

  • 175 GW renewables by 2022: 100 GW solar, 60 GW wind, 10 GW bioenergy, 5 GW hydropower (2020: 87 GW with 36 GW in development).9
  • 450 GW renewable energy by 2030.
  • Mandate for 8% of power to be renewable (by 2019).

Transport

  • 30% of new cars to be electric by 2030 (down from original 100% proposal).
  • Small car fleet target for car manufacturers of 113 gCO₂/km by 2022.
  • India railways targets net zero emissions by 2030 and full electrification by 2023.

Agriculture

  • Outreach programmes and funding for mitigation and adaptation activities.

Footnotes