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India’s Emissions Set To Double, As Coal Continues To Dominate

November 17, 2018

By Paul Homewood




It’s worth taking a closer look at the claim made last week that India is leading the world in tackling climate change.

The claim was based on India’s latest National Electricity Plan (NEP), which was published in April 2018. Below is the current situation for installed capacity, according to the NEP:






From that capacity, generation amounted to 1160 TWh in 2016/17, of which coal currently accounts for 958 TWh, or 82%.


Generation is targeted to nearly double by 2026/27, to 2047 TWh.




To achieve this, capacity will increase to 619 GW, of which 44% will be renewable (which excludes hydro). We must note, however, that coal power capacity is also slated to rise from 192 to 238 GW.




However, as we know, the share of generation will be much different. According to the plan, RES will supply 518 TWh, just 25%. This is not dissimilar to the UK’s current mix.

Coal generation however will jump from its current level of 958 TWh, to 1319 TWh in 2026/27, an increase of 38%.


There has been some talk about India having too much coal capacity in the pipeline, but this is not true.

The NEP has looked closely at the coal power situation. They reckon that of the current capacity of 192 GW, 48 GW will need to be shut down by 2027:





To offset this loss of capacity, and meet the overall generation needed in 2026/27, some 94 GW of new capacity will need to be built. This includes 47 GW already at different stages of construction at the moment.



What this means of course is that a large slice of India’s coal power capacity in 2027 will be new, highly modern, low polluting, high efficiency plants. It is extremely unlikely that India would choose to shut these down soon after, merely on some climate change whim. They are instead likely to still be in use for decades to come.


What does all of this mean for CO2 emissions?

The NEP states that the power sector accounts for about half of India’s emissions. These will increase by 38% from 2015 levels by 2026:



The other half of emissions arises from the industrial and transport sectors. These, of course, are not the subject of the NEP. However, the NEP makes no allowance for any significant shift to electrification of transport, which would need much greater power capacity if it were to occur.

Given India’s need for economic growth, there seems little likelihood of emission cuts in either industry or transport.

Indeed, Climate Action Tracker have carried out their own analysis for overall emissions, and concluded:

Our analysis shows that India can achieve its NDC target with currently implemented policies, i.e. it would not have to put any other policies in place. Under current policy projections, greenhouse gas emissions (excluding LULUCF) are projected to reach a level of 3.2–3.3 GtCO2e in 2020 and 4.5–4.6 GtCO2e in 2030. This is a 53–57% increase in emissions from 2010 levels by 2020 and a more than doubling of 2010 levels by 2030. While this growth is in line with both the 2020 and 2030 intensity pledges, the achievement of India’s targets depends on actual economic growth levels. Population growth is one of the main drivers of India’s projected GHG emissions. By 2028, India is projected to overtake China as the largest country in terms of population. By 2030, India’s population is projected to grow to ~1.5 billion but the per capita emissions would still be far below the world average in 2013 (World Bank, 2017).

A doubling of emissions from 2010 levels hardly sounds like “leading to a warming of below 2C”.

To put the figures into perspective, the UK’s GHG emissions are 0.4 GtCO2e, about a tenth of what India’s will be by 2030.  EU emissions total about 4.5 GtCO2e.

  1. Mark Hodgson permalink
    November 17, 2018 7:31 pm

    India (INDC submitted on 1st October 2015)
    This one is rather more important than most of the INDCs.
    They start with a lovely fluffy paragraph which makes all the right noises:
    “Yajur Veda 36.17
    {{Unto Heaven be Peace, Unto the Sky and the Earth be Peace, Peace be unto the Water, Unto the Herbs and Trees be Peace}}” And
    “India has a long history and tradition of harmonious co-existence between man and nature. Human beings here have regarded fauna and flora as part of their family. This is part of our heritage and manifest in our lifestyle and traditional practices. We represent a culture that calls our planet Mother Earth. As our ancient text says; “Keep pure! For the Earth is our mother! And we are her children!” The ancient Indian practice of Yoga, for example, is a system that is aimed at balancing contentment and worldly desires, that helps pursue a path of moderation and a sustainable lifestyle. Environmental sustainability, which involves both intra-generational and inter-generational equity, has been the approach of Indians for very long. Much before the climate change debate began, Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as the father of our nation had said that we should act as ‘trustees’ and use natural resources wisely as it is our moral responsibility to ensure that we bequeath to the future generations a healthy planet.”
    The immediately following paragraph, however, makes clear where they are coming from and what their plans are:
    “The desire to improve one’s lot has been the primary driving force behind human progress. While a few fortunate fellow beings have moved far ahead in this journey of progress, there are many in the world who have been left behind. Nations that are now striving to fulfill this ‘right to grow’ of their teeming millions cannot be made to feel guilty of their development agenda as they attempt to fulfill this legitimate aspiration. Just because economic development of many countries in the past has come at the cost of environment, it should not be presumed that a reconciliation of the two is not possible.”
    They definitely want international money, and lots of it (more on that at the end of this piece) and set out their stall early:
    “If the world indeed is concerned about its new investments to be climate friendly, it must consider the opportunity provided by a country like India where economic growth could be achieved with minimum levels of emissions by employing new technologies and finance for achieving low carbon growth. Developed countries can certainly bring down their emission intensity by moderating their consumption, and substantially utilize their investments by employing them for development activities in countries housing a vast majority of people barely living at subsistence level. The ratio of emission avoided per dollar invested and economic growth attained would be relatively more favourable in case of investments made in India.”
    The size of India and its population, and its anticipated growth, combined with the understandable desire to at least ameliorate, if not eradicate, poverty, make this a difficult circle to square:
    “India accounts for 2.4% of the world surface area, but supports around 17.5% of the world population. It houses the largest proportion of global poor (30%), around 24% of the global population without access to electricity (304 million), about 30% of the global population relying on solid biomass for cooking and 92 million without access to safe drinking water. The average annual energy consumption in India in 2011 was only 0.6 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) per capita as compared to global average of 1.88 toe per capita. It may also be noted that no country in the world has been able to achieve a Human Development Index of 0.9 or more without an annual energy availability of at least 4 toe per capita.
    With a HDI of 0.586 and global rank of 135, India has a lot to do to provide a dignified life to its population and meet their rightful aspirations.”
    “Given the development agenda in a democratic polity, the infrastructure deficit represented by different indicators, the pressures of urbanization and industrialization and the imperative of sustainable growth, India faces a formidable and complex challenge in working for economic progress towards a secure future for its citizens.”
    Their then follows a table of “key macro indicators” which are truly problematic. Population projected to grow from 1.2Bn to 1,5Bn (that’s an increase of 300 million people, in case the use of billions lulls one into a false sense of small numbers) in just 16 years between 2014 and 2030. Over almost the same period (2011-2030), the numbers living in urban areas are expected to jump from 377 million to 609 million. Crucially, electricity demand (TWh)is expected to almost quadruple from 776 in 2012 to 2499 in 2030.
    These key numbers are then expressed in terms of the challenge they imply:
    “Almost all the macroeconomic models predict that anticipated needs in the future will be large. Rapid urbanization in the country will be one of the most dominant trends in the coming years. It is expected that about 40% of the population in 2030 would be urban as against 30% currently. As population expands and incomes grow, this shift will likely be realized alongside demographic changes that will exponentially increase the demand for urban amenities like housing, energy, transport, water, waste disposal. It is estimated that more than half of India of 2030 is yet to be built. In a way, India’s development process is doubly challenging. It not only has to complete the current unfinished development agenda, it has to strategise for future pressures that may increase the magnitude of this development gap.”
    It is hardly surprising then that the INDCs make no reference to GHG emissions in absolute terms, or even against a Business as Usual scenario, since on either basis, emissions are bound to increase exponentially. Instead they choose to talk about “reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP”. This is of course progress of a sort, but far from reducing emissions, will see them increase hugely, just not by as much as might otherwise have been the case. The extent to which emissions will skyrocket becomes clear by a quick look at some simple numbers. Their key macro indicators include “Per capita GDP in USD (nominal)”, 1408 in 2014, happily increasing to 4205 in 2030. That looks like a trebling, which it is, broadly, on a per capita basis, but bearing in mind that the population is set to increase by 25% over broadly the same period it represents an increase of GDP of c. 370%.
    Set against that is this INDC target: “To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level.” Maths was never my strong point, but even if that optimistic level of emissions intensity reduction was achieved, it still looks to me like close to a doubling of emissions by 2030.
    Not very impressive in terms of “saving the planet”, albeit it might be a major achievement, given India’s issues. But what will it cost? This is the really scary bit:
    “Preliminary estimates indicate that India would need around USD 206 billion (at 2014-15 prices) between 2015 and 2030 for implementing adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems. Apart from this there will be additional investments needed for strengthening resilience and disaster management. An Asian Development Bank Study on assessing the costs of climate change adaptation in South Asia indicates that approximate adaptation cost for India in energy sector alone would roughly be about USD 7.7 billion in 2030s. The report also projects the economic damage and losses in India from climate change to be around 1.8% of its GDP annually by 2050. Mitigation requirements are even more enormous. Estimates by NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) indicate that the mitigation activities for moderate low carbon development would cost around USD 834 billion till 2030 at 2011 prices.
    India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. A substantial scaling up of the climate action plans would require greater resources. A detailed and full scale assessment of international climate finance needs will be finalized at a later stage and would depend on the gap between actual cost of implementation of India’s plans and what can be made available from domestic sources. While this would evolve over time, a preliminary estimate suggests that at least USD 2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) will be required for meeting India’s climate change actions between now and 2030.”
    Given that the USA seems to be expected to put up most of the funding, no wonder Trump decided to get out of the Paris Accords.
    As a postscript; next time someone tries to tell you that India is cutting down on its use of coal, this should enable you to put them straight. Their actual policy is this:
    “Clean Coal policies: Coal based power as of now accounts for about 60.8% (167.2 GW) of India’s installed capacity. In order to secure reliable, adequate and affordable supply of electricity, coal will continue to dominate power generation in future. Government of India has already taken several initiatives to improve the efficiency of coal based power plants and to reduce its carbon footprint. All new, large coal-based generating stations have been mandated to use the highly efficient supercritical technology. Renovation and Modernisation (R&M) and Life Extension (LE) of existing old power stations is being undertaken in a phased manner. About 144 old thermal stations have been assigned mandatory targets for improving energy efficiency. Coal beneficiation has been made mandatory. Introduction of ultra-supercritical technology, as and when commercially available is part of future policy. Besides, stringent emission standards being contemplated for thermal plants would significantly reduce emissions.”

  2. Jon Scott permalink
    November 17, 2018 7:55 pm

    This is what it is all about. Facts and reason have been replaced by the left who control all of this by fanciful claims and numbers pulled out of the sky and they are the truth until some person derided as a skeptic does the actual work to show the claim to be false….yet will that ever be broadcast? Not on your nelly!

  3. John F. Hultquist permalink
    November 17, 2018 8:16 pm

    The Climate Action Tracker has done what is known as “putting lipstick on a pig.” The phrase is somewhat unfair to India because they clearly know the problems they have and are working to fix them. Good for them, and the heading paragraph ought to have acknowledged this – not falsely describing something that isn’t happening.

    A reverse example of this happened this week when US publications put a headline on the appointment (by Pres. Trump) of a highly qualified woman to be the USA’s South Africa Ambassador.
    Newsweek presented this as:
    Trump Names Handbag Designer and Mar-a-Lago Club Member as South Africa Ambassador

    James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal suggest the headline could, alternatively, have been written as:
    Trump Names Entrepreneur Fluent in Afrikaans and Xhosa as South Africa Ambassador

    The woman was born in East London (South Africa) and remained a resident of SA until age 22.
    The Newsweek story is at this link: Lana Marks

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      November 17, 2018 9:37 pm

      And thus the myth of an unbiased Press gets a slow burial.

  4. Coeur de Lion permalink
    November 17, 2018 9:34 pm

    Do take a look at the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees paper (790 pages) where one ‘pathway’ requires that investment in coal shall stop by 2030. (Ch 4) Clearly the UN will have to invade India with an army and stop their evil activity. Quite soon.

    • Lezz permalink
      November 18, 2018 11:16 am

      Perhaps we should send those Loonies who tried to disrupt London yesterday. Can you imagine them attempting that in Delhi?

  5. November 18, 2018 12:39 pm

    the claim made last week that India is leading the world in tackling climate change

    All claims of ‘tackling’ climate change are spurious, so who is leading is moot.

  6. November 18, 2018 12:44 pm

    we must also remind ourselves from time to time that india is a non-annex country. Non-annex countries have no climate action obligation under the unfccc and are also allowed to increase emissions as part of their economic development plan to get out of poverty.

  7. Athelstan permalink
    November 18, 2018 12:48 pm

    Only a loony, would attempt to even countenance the mad idea that mankind can by somehow fiddle up or down with a planetary sized thermostat. As we note, that, the propensity for man to thinkn plain stupid is eternal as is his supreme, puritanical zeal, its extremism, and boundless arrogance.

    India will do as she does, with no one’s help but trade and focus on what is good only for Inda which is right.

    Suicide by idiot.

    Our problem in the the UK is that, the virtue signalling eco warriors and SJW’s are trying to influence China and India but by shutting down debate, common sense and reason, coal-fossil fuel fired generation – in Britain…………..
    Yet, and yes, when all our fires go out, the rest of the world will point at Britain, sniggeringly scoff and shout –

    “that’s what happens when you spurn cheap energy and COAL!”

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