New Paper Exposes India’s Climate Hypocrisy

By Paul Homewood




This paper, which is critical of India’s Paris climate contribution, was published in July:





Mohan_Is India pulling its weight India s nationally determined contribution and future energy plans in global climate policy



I don’t know why they are so surprised now. They should have read my post from three years ago, “India’s Climate Plan Will Triple Emissions By 2030”, which showed just how worthless India’s INDC was!

The reality is that India’s never seriously intended to cut CO2, or even mitigate emissions going forward.

Still, better late than never. Mohan & Wehnert make several points:




1) The NDC contains two main commitments, as far as emissions are concerned. The first is to to increase non-fossil fuel capacity to 40% of total electricity
capacity by 2030.

However, as Mohan & Wehnert  point out, the figure was already 30% in 2015, and is now 34%.

However, India’s commitments were in reality fairly modest and are inconsistent with domestic achievements and progress. For instance, as of October 2015, when India submitted its NDC, non-fossil fuel electricity capacity was already 30% and it stood at more than 34% at the end of 2017 (CEA, 2018a).

Note that the 40% target refers to “non-fossil fuels”, and not just renewables. Currently hydro and nuclear provide 11% of India’s electricity, compared to just 6% for renewables:


BP Energy Review 2018

Even if renewables are used to close the gap to the 40% target, the contribution from wind and solar will still be pretty insignificant.

The simple reality is that India’s INDC about renewable energy was never intended to make any significant difference.



2) The second commitment was to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 33–35% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

This of course refers to emissions per unit of GDP.

But as the authors also point out:

Furthermore, emissions intensity has steadily declined over the past decade, reaching a reduction of 28% from 2005 levels by end of 2016.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, carbon intensity tends to fall naturally as economies mature anyway. In the early stages of industrialisation, heavy industry is obviously very energy intensive. As the economy gradually transitions to light industry, consumer products and services, GDP rises much faster than energy usage.

The 28% reduction in India’s emissions intensity since 2005 has little or nothing to do with climate policy or renewable generation.

Furthermore all of that reduction took place before 2011, which makes a nonsense of any claim that it has anything to do with climate policy.


In my post that I mentioned earlier, I calculated that, based on the Indian government’s own assumptions, emissions would triple by 2030. It may even be worse than that, because, according to this paper, the NDC pledge excludes agriculture.

There is certainly nothing in this new paper which disputes my basic projections three years ago.



3) Future energy plans

As Mohan & Wehnert state:

More worryingly, India’s Draft National Energy Policy (DNEP) released by the Government think tank NITI Aayog in November 2016 outlines ambitious plans to both expand coal mining and coal fired power capacity in the country. According to the BAU scenario, NITI Aayog envisages 440 GW of coal capacity by 2040, which would be a more than a two-fold jump on current levels (NITI Aayog, 2017). This figure is in line with the estimates of Shearer, Fofrich, and Davis (2017) based on the coal projects proposed, in planning, under construction, or operational, as per the CoalSwarm database. Interestingly, most of this build out is projected to happen between 2027 and 2040 as the DNEP states that no new coal plants will be built between 2017 and 2027 apart from the 50 GW already under construction (NITI Aayog, 2017), something which is confirmed by the recently released National Electricity Plan (CEA, 2018b). This indicates that India will be starting a second wave of installing more than 200 GW worth of coal power projects just at the time of the second global stocktake and the final phase of the current NDCs. Even under the ‘ambitious action’ pathway, it estimates 80 GW of new coal capacity to be needed between 2027 and 2040 (NITI Aayog, 2017).

Despite this significant growth in coal, NITI Aayog estimates that India will comfortably meet its NDC commitments in 2030 with more than half of installed electricity capacity potentially from non fossil fuel sources, while emissions intensity is estimated to decrease by 45–53% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels (NITI Aayog, 2017). While India is safely on track to meet and overachieve on its first NDC under the Paris Agreement (Kuramochi et al., 2017), significant new coal expansion has been planned for the 2030s, putting the strength of its second NDC in doubt.

It was evident to those of us not blinded by the rhetoric at Paris that the only thing that mattered to the Indian government was economic growth. This was never going to be compatible with a wholesale switch to renewable energy or emission reduction.

On the contrary, India knew that it would need a massive expansion in electricity generation to achieve its economic plans, and that this would largely have to come from reliable generation, such as fossil fuels and nuclear.

Mohan & Wehnert now confirm that the latest government plans are designed to do just that, mainly via coal generation. This is hardly a surprise, given that India possesses vast reserves of the stuff.

Most significantly, as far as Paris is concerned, is that India is planning to continue expanding coal generating capacity well beyond 2030, extinguishing any hopes that the country might start to reduce emissions at that time.

It is also inconceivable that India would spend billions on new coal plant, just to shut it all down a decade later.




It is about time that anybody, who is seriously concerned about CO2 emissions, recognised the fact that India has absolutely no intention at all of reducing its emissions for the foreseeable future, nor even sees the need to.

As for India taking on leadership in international climate politics, the whole idea is risible, seemingly based on western self delusion as much as anything else.


October 5, 2018 at 06:24AM

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