India proposes new 2030 and net zero targets
Indian Prime Minister Modi announced updated 2030 targets and a 2070 net zero target at the World Leaders Summit at COP26 in Glasgow.
The announcement was short on details, which makes any assessment difficult. However, the updated targets will, at most, drive minor reductions in real world emission reductions. The strengthened NDC targets improve the CAT overall rating by one category to ‘Insufficient’ from previously ‘Highly insufficient’. Both the CAT’s rating of India’s fair share target and the internationally supported target have improved. Yet, further cuts are needed in 2030 emissions to put India on a 1.5°C pathway. We look forward to seeing the details of these announcements once they have been submitted to the UNFCCC.
*Note this assessment has been updated from our initial analysis as more details about the targets became available
CAT analysis of NDC announcement
During the World Leaders Summit, held at the start of the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a strengthened 2030 Paris Agreement target and a 2070 net zero target.
The updated 2030 target is comprised of four elements, but few details were given, which makes our assessment difficult and uncertain.
The four elements are:
- Reducing the carbon intensity of the economy to 45% below 2005 level
- Increasing non-fossil capacity in power generation to 500GW.
- Achieving 50% of its energy requirement will be from renewable energy sources by 2030
- Reducing emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030.
It is unclear whether any of the elements are conditional on international support. In his speech, Modi stressed the importance of international support to developing countries.
In its first NDC, India committed to reducing emissions intensity by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030. The CAT had assessed this target as “Highly Insufficient” as India’s emissions from policies and actions would be well below this level in 2030.
While Prime Minister Modi made reference to ‘carbon intensity’ in his Glasgow speech, following the clarification from Ministry of External Affairs we have treated the updated target as a continuation of the first NDC, interpreting it as a 45% emissions intensity goal (all gases not only CO2), and this represents a progression beyond the first target.
A 45% emissions intensity target would result in 4.5 GtCO2e/year emissions in 2030, 15-18% lower than under the previous target. If the target was limited to carbon and not all emissions, the level in 2030 would be higher.
For context, the CAT projections would see India’s current policies result in 2030 emissions levels at 3.8-4.0 GtCO2e, lower than the new emissions intensity target. In other words, India's new intensity target is much weaker than its present policies.
Increasing non-fossil capacity to 500 GW
In the CAT projections for current policies and action, the non-fossil capacity is already close to the targeted number: The upper end (based on World Energy Outlook 2020 Stated Policy Scenario) includes 452 GW non-fossil capacity in 2030, and the lower end (based on CEA) includes even 519 GW. This means, that the 500 GW target will, at most, drive a small emissions reductions, based on the top end of our range, if at all. Adjusting the non-fossil capacity to 500 GW in the upper end scenario brings the emissions level down to 3.9 GtCO2e in 2030 from 4.0 GtCO2e.
CAT rates the 500 GW non-fossil target “Highly insufficient” when compared to what India needs to achieve within its own borders with international support. The target is stronger than the previous one and has improved its CAT rating by one category, now falling just inside the ‘Highly insufficient’ range.
50% of energy requirements from RE
The Ministry did not explicitly define ‘energy requirements’ but spoke about it in the context of its former 40% non-fossil capacity target. Based on those remarks, we now consider the target to be one related to capacity rather than generation (in contrast to our initial assessment). The scope, however, has still not been communicated: namely, whether it includes large hydro.
The bottom end of the CAT polices and action range is based on a government scenario that already has over 50% RE capacity (whether or not hydro is included). After adjusting the top end of our range to meet the 500GW non-fossil capacity, it will also meet the 50% RE target even if hydro capacity is left out. If hydro is considered part of the target, all of our scenarios already go beyond 50% RE in 2030 under current policies and action.
We have not quantified this target separately as it will be covered by the range created by the intensity and 500GW targets.
One billion tonnes reduction
We have not quantified the one billion tonnes as it is likely to fall close to the intensity target.
No baseline was given for the one billion tonnes reduction target, making the quantification of this target particularly difficult if not impossible. The difference between India’s first intensity target (33-35%) and the new 45% target is 0.8-1.0GtCO2e, meaning that if the original intensity target is taken as the baseline, the one billion tonne target would add little in terms of additional reductions. In other words, the one billion tonnes would be roughly consistent with India’s strengthened intensity target.
New 2030 targets improve CAT ratings, real world impact small
The Prime Minister did not comment on whether these new announcements were conditional on international support. Consistent with our past assessments, we have assumed the intensity target is unconditional, and the non-fossil target is conditional on international support.
The intensity target is rated as ‘Insufficient’ when compared to India’s fair share contribution, an improvement of one category from our previous assessment.
For the assessment of what India would need to do within its own borders with support, we start with the current policy scenario and assume that the 500 GW non-fossil target is implemented in addition. This would lead to 3.8 to 3.9 GtCO2e in 2030 and would be rated “Highly insufficient”.
Overall, India’s rating improves from ‘Highly insufficient’ to ‘Insufficient’, with limited additional emissions reductions implied by the non-fossil target.
These targets, while an improvement over the previous ones, are not ambitious enough as they are hardly able to go below where India’s emissions are heading anyway under current policies.
In his speech, Prime Minister Modi did not mention any plan to phase out coal in India, which has one of the highest coal capacities and pipelines. A recent CAT analysis shows that early retirement of the existing coal capacity and reduction of the coal project pipeline would enable India to reduce its national emissions to its fair share level in 2030, and save a quarter of a million premature deaths.
The Prime Minister stressed the need for developed countries to fulfil their climate finance commitments, which CAT analysis has shown are woefully inadequate. However, developing countries, for their part, also need to come forward with strong conditional targets.
The Prime Minister also emphasised that environmentally conscious lifestyle choices can play a crucial role in combatting climate change and urged that ‘Lifestyle for Environment' to become a global initiative.
Net Zero target
The final element of the Prime Minister’s announcement was a net zero by 2070 target. The announcement is a welcome development; however, there is insufficient information to fully evaluate the target, so we have evaluated it “target information incomplete.”
We used the same methods as in the CAT India country assessment to estimate the emissions intensity target.
500 GW non-fossil target
The CAT current policy projections for the Indian power sector are based on WEO2020 and a report from the Indian Central Electricity Authority (see the India country assessment for details).
We increase the capacity of non-fossils in the WEO scenario to 500 GW in 2030. We assumed total generation and the anticipated growth in nuclear and hydro energy remained the same as would the relative proportion of fossil generation and the emissions and capacity factors. We then calculated the anticipated change in emissions due to the change in fossil generation.
We subtracted this small change from the top end of our current policy estimate to reflect the likely impact the climate will see from the target.
The Indian Central Electricity Authority report already includes more than 500GW of non-fossil capacity, so we did not make any changes to the bottom end of our range.
If one treats the elements of the NDC announcement as additive, one would substrate these reductions from the intensity target, resulting in an emissions level of around 4.4GtCO2e.