India has pledged to reduce its GDP emissions intensity by 20–25% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. We estimate this target to be in line with currently implemented policies. Under the assumption of a 6.4% annual GDP growth, we rate this pledge ”medium”.
The “medium” rating indicates that India’s climate plans are at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution. This means it is not consistent with limiting warming to below 2°C unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort.
India has pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20–25% in 2020 compared to 2005 levels. This target does not cover emissions from the agricultural sector. India proposed the target during the Copenhagen negotiations and submitted it to the Copenhagen Accord on 30 January 2010. The quantification of this pledge covers a range of between 3.5 and 3.6 GtCO2e in 2020 (excluding LULUCF). This is equivalent to a 205–223% increase in emissions from 1990 levels.
In 2007 at the G8 + 5 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, then Indian Prime Minister Singh pledged that India’s per capita emissions would never exceed those of the developed world. Given India’s low per capita emissions, meeting this pledge does not require any emissions reductions compared to the current policy projections up to 2030, and this pledge is not shown in the figure. However, we take this pledge into account in the global pathway to 2100, when calculating the associated rise in global temperature.
We rate India’s 2020 pledge “medium”. The pledge is in line with several effort sharing approaches. Approaches based on equal cumulative per capita emissions would allow a higher emissions level. Approaches that focus on responsibility and capability would require more stringent emissions reductions. Current policy projections for 2030 are in line with fair shares based on converging per capita emissions for all countries to the same level (equality), and staged approaches. Due to the inclusion of more effort sharing approaches, the “sufficient” and “medium” range for India has widened compared to the assessments in previous years.
Our analysis shows that under currently implemented policies, greenhouse gas emissions (excluding LULUCF) are projected to reach a level of between 3.5 and 3.6 GtCO2e in 2020 and between 5.0 and 5.1 GtCO2e in 2030. This is a 40% increase in emissions from 2010 levels by 2020 and a doubling compared to 2010 levels by 2030. Compared to 1990 levels, this is 208-210% increase by 2020 and a 340–349% increase by 2030. This increase is in line with the 2020 pledge range, but whether India will achieve its pledge depends on actual economic growth (we assume 6.4% GDP growth per year for both the pledge and current policy projections).
India’s total emissions have been growing steadily since 1990. The overall growth slowed down around the year 2000 as land use changed from being a small source of emissions in the first inventory year—14 MtCO2e in 1994—to a large sink, with removals of 223 MtCO2e in 2000. Since then, this impact has been reduced to some extent; in the last available inventory year (2007), land use removals accounted for 175 MtCO2e. Based on projections from the Planning Commission Government of India (2014), this carbon sink is expected to increase to 206 MtCO2e in 2020 and 228 MtCO2e in 2030 under the National Green India Mission (GIM). These projected sinks are equivalent to 6% and 4% of emissions excluding LULUCF in 2020 and 2030, respectively.
India launched its National Action Plan on Climate Change (NACC) in 2008, which outlines eight national missions in the area of sustainable development (Government of India, 2008). India’s 12th Five Year Plan for the period 2012–2017 (Government of India, 2013) proposed a re-organisation of the NACC. The Five Year Plans provide the basic direction for government activities, addressing all sectors and policy areas. Our analysis includes the 11th and 12th Five Year Plan.
On the federal level, India has implemented two major renewable energy-related policies. The 'Strategic Plan for New and Renewable Energy' provides a broader framework. The 'National Solar Mission', launched in 2010, contains capacity targets for solar energy. The original targets of the mission were 10 GW by 2017 and 20 GW by 2022 (MNRE, 2010). Cumulative installed solar power capacity in India reached 3 GW by the end of 2014 (MNRE, 2014a). In November 2014, the government announced plans to increase its solar capacity to 100 GW installed capacity by 2022. India confirmed this scaling-up of the national solar mission during the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP-20) in Lima, December 2014 (UNFCCC, 2014). By the end of 2014 the Government of India had approved plans for 25 Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects, with a combined capacity of over 20 GW, to be developed in the coming five years (MNRE, 2014b).
In the first half of 2015, targets for other renewable energy sources where increased as well. India currently targets a cumulative installed capacity of 175 GW by 2022. This target consists of 100 GW solar, 60 GW wind 10 GW biomass and 5 GW small scale hydro (MNRE, 2015).
Achieving the renewable energy targets depends on financial and structural supporting mechanisms. The state-level feed-in schemes and renewable portfolio standards are expected to partly provide this. Given that electricity demand is expected to grow further by 4.6% per year (IEA, 2014), and the prevailing dominance of other energy sources such as coal, the total impact of these policies and targets is expected to be low compared with the potential of renewable energy in India.
In 2010 the Indian Government introduced a coal tax of 50 rupees (0.8 USD) per metric tonne of coal produced and imported. This tax was doubled to 100 rupees per metric tonne in the 2014–2015 budget and doubled again to 200 rupees per tonne in the 2015–2016 budget. The revenues from the coal tax feed into the National Clean Energy Fund, which provides finance to renewable energy projects. Part of the revenue has been earmarked for the implementation of ‘ultra mega solar power’ projects (Mittal, 2014; Minister of Finance, 2015).
Under the 'National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency,' India implemented its 'Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT)' Mechanism. The scheme covers the country’s largest industrial and power generation facilities that, in total, cover more than 50% of fossil fuel use in India. The target is to achieve a 4% to 5% reduction of energy consumption of the participating facilities in 2015 (below 2010 levels). Sixty percent of this is to stem from the power sector and 40% from the industry sector. The effect after 2015 heavily depends on the rules governing the continuation of the scheme, which have yet to be decided.
Biofuel legislation sets a target of 20% blending of ethanol and biodiesel in 2017.
Historic emissions are a combination of CO2 from fuel combustion from IEA (2013), CO2 emissions from cement production from CDIAC (2014), other CO2 emission from JRC/PBL (2012), and non-CO2 emissions from USEPA (2012). LULUCF emissions are taken from UNFCCC (2014) for 1994 and 2000, Government of India (2012) for 2007 and Planning Commission Government of India (2014) for 2010. For consistency with the current policy projections, the pledge is quantified based on GDP assumptions from the World Energy Outlook (IEA, 2014). GDP is assumed to grow by on average 6.4% in the period 2005-2020. This is roughly in line with the historical GDP development until 2013 and projections to 2019 from the IMF (2014).
Current policy projections
Current policy projections are based on the World Energy Outlook 2014 Current Policy Scenario (IEA, 2014) combined with the US EPA non-CO2 emissions projections until 2030 (US EPA 2012) and extrapolation of other CO2 emissions based on JRC/PBL (2012), CDIAC (2014) and WBCSD/IEA (2013). The increased renewable energy targets, which were not yet included in the Current Policy Scenario, were additionally quantified and are expected to result in emission savings of 115 MtCO2e beyond the Current Policy Scenario in 2020 and 160 MtCO2e in 2030.
The Baseline, Inclusive Growth (BIG) scenario by the Indian Government’s Planning Commission (2014) is shown as an additional scenario in the graph. Since the scenario only covers CO2 emissions, it was complemented with non-CO2 emissions projections from US EPA (2012). This scenario was not included in the current policy projections range, because it is not in line with current policies and trends in India. The increase in the use of coal in the Planning Commission’s scenario represents a strong acceleration compared to the recent trend in India and corresponds to very high carbon intensity, compared to other scenarios (e.g. WEO and LIMITS). The levels of installed capacity of solar and wind projected for 2030 in this scenario were almost reached already by the end of 2014.
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