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India Sectors

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

The total primary energy consumption of the transport sector in India has been steadily increasing since 1990 from 0.9 EJ in 1990 to 4.4 EJ in 2019.5 In 2019, the sector consumed 17% of total primary energy and 1.5% of electricity. Paris Agreement compatible pathways which require a rapid electrification of the sector show a share of electricity in total energy mix reaching 10-60% by 2030 and 44-89% by 2050. In all analysed scenarios, the sector’s emissions intensity declines rapidly, between 63-66% by 2030 and 82-100% by 2050 from 2019 level. The decline is mostly driven by high electrification rate of this sector and introduction of hydrogen and biofuels (particularly ethanol) in the fuel mix. The share of hydrogen and biofuel in the transport sector could reach 10-34% and 15-29% respectively by 2050 under different scenarios.

Primary energy consumption in India’s transport sector is completely dominated by fossil fuels (96% in 2020), mostly oil (93%). All scenarios show fossil energy demand declining from 96% in 2020, to 23% share by 2050. One of the scenarios shows a fossil fuel phase-out from the transport sector by 2050.

India has provided a strong policy push to expedite the penetration of electric vehicles (EV) by providing subsidies to reduce the upfront cost of buying an EV.24 It has set a target of 30% share of electric vehicles in new sales by 2030.25 The government is also working on plans to require all two-wheelers to be electric by 2026.26 The sales of electric scooters has already doubled since 2021.27 The use of alternative fuels is also getting a policy push: the government has mandated the blending of 20% ethanol in petrol by 2025.11

1 Climate Action Tracker. India. September 2021 update. 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 Portal. (2017).

5 IEA. India. IEA. (2020).

6 Observatory of Economic Complexity. India. 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. September 2020 update. Climate Action Tracker. (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. (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. (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 energy mix in the transport sector

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020504 0006 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020504 0006 000
Low energy demand
20192030204020504 0006 000
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020504 0006 000
  • Natural gas
  • Coal
  • Oil and e-fuels
  • Biofuel
  • Biogas
  • Biomass
  • Hydrogen
  • Electricity
  • Heat

Indiaʼs transport sector direct CO₂ emissions (of energy demand)


  • Historical emissions
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • Low energy demand

1.5°C compatible transport sector benchmarks

Direct CO₂ emissions and shares of electricity, biofuels and hydrogen in the transport final energy demand from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for India

Decarbonised transport sector by
Direct CO₂ emissions
105 to 115
26 to 94
0 to 54
2041 to 2059
Relative to reference year in %
−66 to −63%
−92 to −70%
−100 to −82%
Share of electricity
10 to 59
27 to 80
44 to 89
Share of biofuels
8 to 11
13 to 16
16 to 29
Share of hydrogen
1 to 12
11 to 34
10 to 35