NOTE: This update covers only the Climate Action Tracker's analysis of India's net zero target. The rest of the assessment is the CAT's assessment of India from November 3, 2022.
At COP27, India submitted its Long-term Strategy for Low Carbon Development (LTS) which provides a breakdown of initiatives by sector, but these do not go beyond current policies and general future direction. Based on its LTS, India plans to continue to develop coal in the long-term. Overall, the level of information provided is extremely limited with no emissions pathway to demonstrate how India will reach net zero by 2070. It remains unclear as to whether India’s net zero by 2070 target covers all greenhouse gas emissions, or just CO2. The CAT evaluates India's LTS as "Poor".
In August 2022, India officially submitted its updated NDC targets, having first announced new targets at COP26 in November 2021. It strengthened both the value of its 2030 emissions intensity target and the share of electricity that will come from non-fossil fuel-based sources, compared to its first NDC.
While the targets are stronger on paper, India will already achieve them with its current level of climate action and the new targets will not drive further emissions reductions. India’s overall CAT rating remains unchanged at "Highly insufficient", but the rating of its NDC against its fair contribution to the 1.5°C temperature limit has improved by one category to "Insufficient".
At COP26, Prime Minister Modi also announced a 500 GW non-fossil capacity target. This target has not been included in the NDC update. At most, it could drive minor reductions in real world emissions, given the 500 GW does not go beyond current government plans.
In essence, India has replaced its first NDC targets (that would have been overachieved) with targets close to its current level of climate action. India needs to propose further cuts in 2030 emissions, conditional to international finance, to put India on a 1.5°C pathway.
Our analysis shows that with current policies India will easily achieve its NDC target. The Indian economy has witnessed a drop in emissions in 2020 mainly due to lockdown measures in response to the pandemic, but the economy has bounced back, with 2021 emissions at higher levels than our previous estimates.
While India missed its 2022 renewable energy target of 175 GW, it continues its expansion of renewable energy capacity, which is one of the fastest in the world and has a 500 GW target for 2030, multiplying current capacity by four (although this target is not part of its NDC). The Draft National Electricity Plan 2022 highlights that India is planning to add significant solar and wind capacity by 2031-32, an increase of 6 and 3 times from 2021-22 level, respectively.
At COP26, India helped weaken the Glasgow Climate Pact language to a “phasing down” of coal in the power sector as a short-term strategy but India is upholding its plan of expanding coal capacity. The Draft National Electricity Plan projects another 26 GW of coal capacity will be installed by 2026-27. There is increasing evidence of the economic disadvantages of coal compared to renewable energy because of the low price of solar and wind. Most of the coal plants are dealing with financial viability, risking profitability and stranded assets. At COP27 India submitted its LTS which reiterates India’s plan to continue to develop coal in the long-term.
1.5°C compatible scenarios require a phase-out of fossil fuels, including fossil gas, yet the Indian government is planning to increase the share of gas in the primary energy mix and is approving the development of new gas infrastructure. Also, India is expanding its footprints in overseas oilfields in Russia and Brazil.
India continues to provide support for both fossil fuels and renewable energy in the form of direct subsidy, fiscal incentives, price regulation and other government support, but subsidies for fossil fuel are nine times higher than renewables, mainly targeted at petroleum.
The Indian government has rolled out a range of policy instruments to support the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies and energy savings. It has introduced a Green Hydrogen Policy and an amendment of the National Energy Conservation Act of 2001. These policies are going to be instrumental in decarbonising India’s industrial sector, and will provide greater opportunity for energy savings in buildings and industry sectors.
The CAT rates India’s climate targets and policies as "Highly insufficient", indicating that India’s climate policies and commitments are not consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit.
Its updated NDC strengthened its targets on paper, but will not drive real world emission reductions beyond its current level of climate action. Its updated emissions intensity target is "Insufficient" when compared to India’s fair share contribution, an improvement of one category.
India’s conditional NDC target, i.e. increase of non-fossil capacity according to the CAT interpretation, is still "Critically insufficient" when compared to a modelled 1.5°C emissions pathway for the country. India’s projected emissions in 2030 under its current level of climate action are higher than our last assessment, largely due to higher historical emissions, and, as a result, now fall under the "Insufficient" range.
India should adopt targets that will drive actual emissions reductions and accelerate climate policy implementation. The country will need international support to get onto a 1.5°C pathway.
We rate India’s current policies and action as "Insufficient" compared to its fair share contribution.
We assess that emissions in 2030 under India’s current policies and action will be higher than our last update. As a result, India’s policies and action rating has fallen from "Almost sufficient" to "Insufficient”. While the projected rate of growth in India’s emissions has slowed compared to our last update, historic emissions for the last few years have been revised upwards, including because of a stronger than expected rebound from the pandemic. This post-COVID rebound was driven by higher energy demand, as industry recovered from COVID, and the continued high share of coal and other fossil fuels in the energy mix.
India has ambitious renewable energy plans: as of September 2022, India has reached a cumulative installed capacity of renewables (excluding large hydro) of more than 118 GW. India ranked third in renewable energy installations in 2021, after China and USA. But it is very unlikely that India will be able to reach its 2022 target of 175 GW renewable energy capacity.
At COP26, Indian Prime Minister Modi announced India would achieve 500 GW of non-fossil capacity by 2030. This target is not mentioned in the updated NDC but included in the draft National Electricity Plan 2022, an increase from the earlier 450 GW target.
The production and use of coal, however, remains an issue: the Ministry of Power has appointed an expert committee to table a proposal to halt new coal-based power units after 2030. However, the government is continuing its support for coal and India remains the second largest coal pipeline globally.
According to the Draft National Electricity Plan, another 26 GW of coal capacity will come online by 2026-27 to meet increasing energy demands. As of July 2022, 32 GW of coal capacity was under construction. This would further increase the risk of stranded assets. The government is also planning to expand LNG use, leading to dependency on imports and a risk of stranding gas infrastructure.
To be aligned with the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C temperature limit, India needs to phase out coal use from its power sector by around 2040.
The government continues to advance its hydrogen policy, which is an important step forward for decarbonisation of refineries and fertiliser plants where fossil fuel is used as feedstock. The policy has set a target of five million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of green hydrogen production by 2030 and it is anticipated that this policy will reduce the cost of green hydrogen production by about 40-50%. The government is planning to introduce a mandatory ‘green hydrogen purchase obligation’ for industrial users. The Green Hydrogen Policy also encourages the use of green hydrogen for storage purposes. Many large corporations in India are coming forward to invest in green hydrogen and battery manufacturing.
In August 2022, India amended its 2001 Energy Conservation Act to promote energy efficiency and conservation, and regulate the energy consumption of certain equipment, appliances, buildings and industries through energy consumption standards and codes, and the introduction of a carbon credit market. Many of the major industries have already made a substantial move towards renewable energy and some have already voluntarily set targets to increase thermal substitution. Targets to be set up for these industrial sectors under the Act need to go beyond what the industrial players have already achieved.
India’s 2022 NDC has three main elements:
- An emissions-intensity target of 45% below 2005 levels by 2030;
- A target of achieving 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030; and
- Creation of a carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 GtCO2e through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
While India indicated in its updated NDC that achieving its 50% non-fossil capacity target would require international support, it is already on track to achieve 60-67% non-fossil capacity by 2030 under current policies.
We rate this target as "Critically insufficient" when compared to the level of reductions needed on India’s territory to be 1.5°C compatible. Substantial improvement is needed in this target and India will need international support to get onto a 1.5°C pathway.
We interpret India’s emissions-intensity target as being its unconditional contribution to limiting warming to 1.5°C. We rate this target against what India’s fair share contribution under the Agreement should be and find it to be “Insufficient.”
The “Insufficient” rating indicates that India’s emissions in 2030 needs substantial improvements to be consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit. India’s target is at the least stringent end of what would be a fair share of global effort and is not consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort. If all countries were to follow similar approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C.
With its updated NDC, India’s fair share rating improved by one category from "Highly insufficient" to "Insufficient", but a stronger target is needed if India is to contribute its fair share.
In 2016, India had a net carbon sink of 308 MtCO2e. India's target for its land and forestry sector remains unchanged in its updated NDC as it plans an additional 2.5–3 GtCO2e of carbon sink by 2030 through additional forest cover. Several policies and measures were adopted under overarching framework of National Mission of Green India.
In its National Forest Policy of 1988 India has set a target of bringing 33% of its geographical area under forest cover. As of 2021, forest and tree cover accounts for 24.6% of country’s geographical area and have increased only marginally since 2013 (from 24%).
At COP26 in 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 2070 net zero target for India and during COP27 India submitted its Long-term Strategy for Low Carbon Development (LTS). We evaluate the net zero target as “Poor”.
The full net zero target analysis can be found here.