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Latest Policy Brief - India's INDCs: Renewable Energy and the Pathway to Paris
3 Feb 2015

The 20th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded in the early hours of 14 December 2014. While some basic directions on areas of inclusion for the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) have been provided in the COP decision at Lima, for the most part it still remains an open ended decision left to individual countries. Specifically, it was decided that the INDCs would be submitted by the first quarter of 2015 (for those who are in a position to do so) or by 1 October, 2015 should include the following:

  • Quantifiable information on the reference point (including a base year)
  • Time frames and/or periods for implementation
  • Scope and coverage (implying gases and sectors)
  • Planning processes (to oversee the fulfilment of INDCs)
  • Assumptions and methodological approaches, including those for estimating and accounting of GHGs
  • How the Party considers that its INDC is fair and ambitious, in light of its national circumstances, and how it contributes towards achieving the objective set out in Article 2 of the convention

With the above as guiding points, it is now up to India to decide what the country feels is a fair and ambitious target to achieve the stabilisation of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a safe level. In this policy brief, the safe level has been assumed as one that provides greater than 66% likelihood of staying within a 2oC degree rise in temperature above pre-industrial levels. Our analysis suggests that India could push its ambition towards a target of 1,041 Billion Units (BU) of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. This would translate to cumulative emissions of 3.4 Gt of CO2 equivalents (CO2 eq.) and per capita emissions of 2.25 tonnes of CO2 eq. in 2030. However, this target would require an incremental cost of approximately INR 39,320 billion (2010, INR) (2010, US$ 715 billion) over the next 15 years and could make the consumption of a threshold level of electricity unaffordable for the bottom two deciles of Indian households.

This document outlines one component of India's INDC submission to the UNFCCC focussing on the renewable energy contribution to its future electricity mix. So far, the Government of India has articulated solar targets for renewable energy, which therefore deserves careful analysis. The document has been divided into the following sections:

Contributions and Actions of Major Emitters: Implications for the Rest of the World - In order to assess the fairness of a potential Indian INDC, it is important to understand the actions and intended contributions of other major emitters (the United States, the European Union, China, Japan, Australia and Canada). Following an analysis of the contributions, this section also analyses the carbon space that remains for the rest of the world including India.

India and China: Differences in Scale and Nature of Emissions in the Past, Present and Future - This section compares India's and China's climate actions at various levels of development (2000, 2010 and 2020).

India's Contributions: Balancing Ambition and Fairness - Given India's national circumstances and development needs, this section provides details of the most ambitious targets that India could offer to ensure the global achievement of a 2oC scenario. This section also illustrates the issue of electricity affordability and provides options on how India could ensure that its climate actions are in line with its development needs.

Read: India's INDCs - Renewable Energy and the Pathway to Paris

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In India, around 74 million rural households lack access to modern lighting services and a larger proportion of the population (around 840 million) continue to be dependent on traditional biomass energy sources
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