India’s INDCs- Progress and Challenges Ahead


India has expressed confidence recently at COP24 at Katowice, Poland that it would achieve all its INDCs targets to tackle climate change ahead of the deadlines.India’s statement comes in the backdrop of new analysis by IEEFA 

Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) is a US-based organisation that conducts research and analysis on financial and economic issues related to energy and environment.

About Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)

INDCs are national climate plans of countries made as a commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, 2015. INDCs incorporate climate actions and mitigation and adoptive measures.

India’s INDCs
1. Reducing Emission intensity of Gross Domestic Product (GDP): India has committed to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33% to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level.
2. Increasing the Share of Non-Fossil Fuel Based Electricity: India has targeted 40%cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance including Green Climate Fund
3. Enhancing Carbon Sink (Forests): India has targeted to create additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide.
Note: Carbon sinks are natural systems that absorb carbon dioxideOther INDCs
1. To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programs in sectors vulnerable to climate change
2. To mobilize domestic funds and new or additional funds from developed countries to implement the mitigation and adaptation actions
3. To build capacities and create domestic and international frameworks for quick diffusion of cutting-edge climate technology in India
4. To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation

Steps taken by India in coherence to achieve INDC targets

Reducing Emission intensity of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Bharat Stage Emission Standards India has decide to leap from BS IV vehicle emission standards straight to BS VI (equivalent to Euro VI emission standards) by 2020 to address air pollution
National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 It aims to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles.
Green Urban Transport Scheme, 2016It aims to improve non-motorised transport infrastructure such as dedicated lanes for cycling, pedestrians, increasing access to public transport, use of clean technologies and adoption of intelligent transport systems (ITS)
National Policy on Biofuels,2018It aims to encourage production of biofuels which help achieve a cleaner environment
Smart Cities Mission, 2015It aims at developing energy efficient, sustainable and climate resilient ‘smart cities’
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala YojnaIt is a scheme for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households with dual aim of arresting health impacts associated with use of unclean cooking fuels and household/indoor air pollution
The National Mission For Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)It seeks to climate proof and reduce emissions in the agriculture sector
Zero effect zero defect policyIt aims to achieve high quality manufacturing that’s also green- Production process which has zero adverse environmental and ecological effects.
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE)1. Perform Achieve and Trade: To improve efficiency in energy intensive sectors
2. Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency (MTEE): To accelerate shift towards energy efficient appliances
3. Energy Efficiency Financing Program (EEFP)- capacity development platform for stakeholders of EE financing
4. Framework for Energy Efficient Economic Development (FEEED): To develop fiscal instruments for energy efficiency
Increasing the Share of Non-Fossil Fuel Based Electricity
International solar AllianceIt is partnership of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on development of solar energy resource
National Green Corridor Programme- Green Energy Corridor ProjectIt aims to synchronise electricity produced from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, with conventional power stations in the grid
National Solar MissionIt aims to achieve 100GW capacity by 2022
Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power ProjectsAims to set up at least 25 Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects targeting over 20,000 MW of solar power installed capacity within a span of 5 years starting from 2014-15
Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India (SRISTI) Scheme:Financial incentives to be provided to the beneficiary for installing solar power plant rooftop projects in India
Grid Connected Solar Rooftop ProgrammeSeeks to promote installation of solar panels on rooftops across India
National Offshore Wind Energy policySeeks to set up of Offshore Wind Farms in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the nation
Draft National Wind Solar Hybrid PolicyIt aims at promotion of large grid connected wind - solar PV hybrid system
Biomass Power and Bagasse Co-generation ProgrammeIt aims at efficient utilization of biomass such as agro residue and agro-industrial residues for power generation
Draft Energy Policy, 2017It seeks to achieve gradual de-carbonisation through the twin interventions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Enhancing Carbon sink
Draft National forest Policy, 2018It targets a 33% of India’s geographical area under forest and tree cover and in the hills and mountainous regions
National Agroforestry Policy, 2014It aims to encourage and expand tree plantation in complementarity and integrated manner with crops and livestock
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)It is meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest uses.
Green India MissionIt aims at protecting; restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures
Green Highways Policy It aims at 140,000 km long “ tree-line” along both sides of national highways.
National REDD+ policyIt aims to provide a roadmap for building comprehensive strategies for implementing REDD+ projects and programmes effectively.

Note: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is the concept adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). REDD+ envisages efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technologyIndia is among 24 developing countries that are working towards adopting CCS technology. The technology involves a three-step process comprising capturing carbon dioxide from its point source, transporting it and then storing it away from the atmosphere

Progress made so far:

According to

As of 2018, India can achieve the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) it has submitted under the Paris Agreement with its currently implemented policies. They have rated India’s NDC “2°C compatible,” meaning that if all countries were to follow India’s approach, warming could be held below—but not well below—2°C

IEEFA has estimated that India is likely to attain the goal of having 40% of its electricity generation coming from renewable sources by the year 2020 itself instead of the original target of 2030.

Challenges/Concerns ahead:

Reducing Emission intensity of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

  1. Development vs. Environment: Like other developing countries, India faces the dual challenge of reconciling its rapid economic growth with a pressing need to address climate change.
  2. Commitment to Low Carbon Economic Growth:Two 2017 publications by NITI Aayog have raised concerns about India’s commitment to low carbon economic growth. This is because the government’s Draft National Energy Policy and the Three Year Action Agenda (2017–18 to 2019–20), both include recommendations to increase domestic production and distribution of coal, oil and gas. While the stated aim of this expansion of domestic fossil fuel production and distribution is to enhance India’s energy security, they may result in additional fossil-based energy demand, leading to higher GHG emissions.
  3. Institutional and Financial Challenges: The policies and measures formulated by the government has been crippled with inadequate financing and lack of coordination between national and state implementing agencies.
  4. Challenges in Transport Sector:
  • In the absence of adequate public transport, there has been an unprecedented growth in private transport in India, thus increasing vehicular emissions.
  • Though the government’s plan to popularize green mobility (including EVs) is ambitious,large-scale adoption of green mobility options is limited by consumer concerns regarding technical performance of vehicles, reliability and dependability, limitation on range and refuelling options, higher upfront costs.
Best Practice: Singapore
Singapore has one of the highest supplies of public transport per capita in the world. A well planned and extensive public transport system coupled with travel demand restraint measures, like area licensing system, vehicle quota system, congestion pricing etc. has resulted in decreasing registration of private cars and high usage of public transport.


Increasing the Share of Non-Fossil Fuel Based Electricity

  1. National Electricity Plan (NEP), 2018: The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in a previous version of NEP had said the India did not need coal-based capacity addition till 2022. However, this was later revised stating India would need 6,440 Mw thermal power during 2017-22. This raises a concern over the future of coal in electricity generation in India
  2. Land Acquisition Issues: Land acquisition has been a major hindrance in development of solar projects, wind turbines and hydro-power projects
  3. Adoption Issues: Homeowners at large have not been installing solar panels at roof top. This is because small deployments naturally cost more than grid-scale farms. Homeowners do not generally consume all the energy it generates and are being unable to sell it as most of the states do not have ‘net-metering’ policy- allowing selling electricity back to the grid.
  4. Raw Materials: India lacks a manufacturing base for solar components and systems and is heavy dependent on imported solar cells and modules, mainly from China. Further, the growth of solar power sector has been affected after a new import duty to protect domestic manufacturers of solar equipment has been introduced.
  5. Grid Integration:Cost-effective and reliable electricity grid planning and operations is a major challenge for India given renewable energy generation is variable in nature and India already has a poor grid system.
  6. Enforcement Issues: There is lack of enforcement of RPO regulations and absence of penalties when obligations are not met.

Note: Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO): It makes it compulsory for large consumers of energy to ensure that a certain percentage of energy mix is from renewable sources such as solar or wind

Best Practice China:

  • China has been the renewable energy growth leader, accounting for over 40% of the total global clean energy mix by 2022. This is due to meeting various capacity targets and addressing concerns about the country’s air pollution.
  • In recent months, for example, China has deployed a number of novel technologies designed to clean the air, including a 100-metre-tall smog-sucking tower in the city of Xian.
  • China has also already surpassed its 2020 solar panel target. Further the IEA expects China to exceed its wind target in 2019.
  • China is also the global market leader in hydropower, bioenergy for electricity and heat, and electric vehicles.

Enhancing Carbon sink

  1. Change in type of forests: according to the State of Forest Report, 2017, there is an increase of open forests but reduction of moderately dense and dense forests, which indicates the forest degradation.
  2. Poor selection of species for Agro Forestry: India has been planting commercially important species like poplar and eucalyptus to meet afforestation targets and timber requirements. However, these species are invasive, water-demanding and not sustainable in nature
  3. Ineffective CAMPA utilization: State forest departments lack the planning and implementation capacity to carry out compensatory afforestation and forest conservation.
  4. Dilution of Forest Rights Act: it weakens the forest dwellers and undermine the power of the village councils there. The dilution facilitates any big industrial unit to easily secure green clearance nod and any project can be implemented without any prior consent from the tribal, who are the actual forest dwellers and play an important role in conserving forest through their traditional knowledge
  5. Issues with EIA Processes:Major issues with Environmental Impact Assessment Process (India) include lack of reliable data, ignoring knowledge of indigenous people, fraudulent EIA reports and unscrupulous environmental clearances
  6. Lack of Research: There is insufficient research on agroforestry models suitable for the diverse agro-climatic regions for the indigenous and multipurpose species (viz. Prosopis cineraria) or on domestication of species, resulting in over emphasis on few species like Poplar, Eucalyptus, Kadam etc.

Way Forward:

  1. India needs to prioritize strategies that strengthen implementation of existing policies. These strategies include ensuring adequate financing with dedicated funds for climate change in the budget, enhance institutional capacity, as well as better vertical coordination of national, state, and local governments and better horizontal coordination of concerned line ministries and departments.
  2. India’s plan to reach the INDC needs to be strongly gender-equitable and community based which is vital for inclusive sustainable development and climate mitigation.
  3. India needs to strongly push for Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) in order to have improved capacity that would help in generating good adaptation action plans and proposals.
  4. A systematic approach for tracking the progress of mitigation actions should be built to ensure effective and timely feedback for implementation of mitigation actions.
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