India's enhanced climate targets and commitments: What do they mean?

Yesterday, at the CoP26, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced “enhanced” targets for India to combat climate change. These were:

  1. India will increase its non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 gigawatt (GW) by 2030.
  2. By 2030, India will meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable sources.
  3. India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonne from now till 2030.
  4. By 2030, India will bring down the carbon intensity of its economy to less than 45 per cent.
  5. By 2070, India will achieve its target of net zero.  

CSE’s viewpoint on this:

“India’s national targets, announced by its Prime Minister, are bold and ambitious, but they will be immensely challenging as well to achieve. In fact, by announcing these targets, India is not only walking its talk, it is literally running the talk – and recognising the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Going by our comparatively low contribution to global emissions, coupled with the fact that our economy needs to grow and meet the energy needs of millions of poor citizens, we did not need to make such an ambitious pledge – but these are a challenge to the already rich world to step up – the time for procrastination and prevarication is over.  

India has committed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 1 billion tonnes – roughly 22 per cent from business as usual scenario and this means that per capita emissions in 2030 will be lower than all industrialised countries of the world, including China. It also means that we have committed to a transformation of our energy system and this when we still have the challenge of reaching affordable energy to millions in the country.   

As far as the net-zero 2070 is concerned, India’s target matches the commitment of the already industrialised. The fact is that the world must reach net-zero by 2050, which means that the OECD countries should get there by 2030 and China by 2040. The net zero target is not equitable or ambitious.” 

Sunita Narain and the CSE Team  

The targets decoded 

500 GW of non-fossil fuel energy capacity by 2030

India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has done a projection for the country’s energy mix for 2030. According to it:

  • In 2019, India’s installed capacity of non-fossil energy (solar, wind, hydel and nuclear) for generating electricity was 134 GW. By 2030, the capacity will reach 522 GW.
  • This will require the solar energy installed capacity in the country to go up to 280 GW, and wind energy capacity to rise to 140 GW. The total installed capacity will be 817 GW and power generation will be 2,518 billion units in 2030

Under this scenario and energy trajectory, India will be able to meet its 500 GW of non-fossil fuel energy capacity by 2030 (See Table). 



Installed capacity (GW)


Generation (billion units)

% of generation

Installed capacity (GW)

% of installed capacity

Generation (billion units)

% of generation


Coal and gas

















































*Including import from Bhutan

50 per cent of energy requirements met from renewables by 2030

As per CEA, in 2019, India was meeting 9.2 per cent of its electricity generation from renewables. By 2021, with an increase in renewable energy capacity 102 GW, the generation has increased to roughly 12 per cent -- it means that we need to increase this further to meet the 50 per cent electricity generation target by 2030. 

India’s power requirement in 2030 is projected to be 2518 BU and if we target to meet 50 per cent of our requirements from renewables, then the installed capacity will have to increase from the planned 450 GW to 700 GW. If we consider hydroelectricity as part of renewables – as it is considered globally – then we will need to increase new renewable capacity to 630 GW. This is definitely achievable

India’s target and energy plan for 2030 also implies that India will restrict its coal-based energy; currently, roughly 60 GW of coal thermal power is under construction and in the pipeline. According to the CEA, India’s coal capacity will be 266 GW by 2030 – which is an addition of 38 GW (which is roughly what is under construction currently). This means India has stated that it will not invest in new coal beyond this. 

Reduction in projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonne (Gt) from 2021-2030

India’s current CO2 emissions (2021) are 2.88 gigatonne (Gt). 

As per CSE’s projections based on the median annual rate of change in past decade 2010-2019, India’s generation in business as usual scenario will be 4.48 Gt in 2030. 

As per this target, India will cut its carbon emission by 1 billion tonne (1 Gt) and therefore, our emissions in 2030 will be 3.48 Gt. 

This means that India has set an ambitious goal to cut its emissions by 22 per cent

In terms of per capita

India would be emitting 2.98 tonne of CO2 per capita -- as per this target, it will be 2.31 tonne per capita. 

If you compare this to the world, in 2030, the US will be emitting 9.42 tonne per capita, EU 4.12, UK 2.7 and China will be emitting 8.88 tonne CO2 per capita.  

According to the IPCC, global CO2 emissions must be 18.22 Gt in 2030 for the world to stay below 1.5°C rise in temperature. If we take global population in 2030 and divide this amount, it would mean that the entire world has to be 2.14 tonne per capita of CO2 in 2030. India is reaching this goal and most importantly, it will do so without adding to the cumulative emissions in the atmosphere. This is where the entire world should commit to go by 2030. 

In terms of the carbon budget

With the new NDC announcement (November 2, 2021), India will occupy:

  • 9 per cent of the remaining IPCC 400 Gt carbon budget for 1.5oC by 2030
  • 4 per cent of world emissions in this decade
  • 2 per cent of world emissions between 1870-2030 

Carbon intensity reduction by 45 per cent

Carbon intensity measures the emissions of CO2 from different sectors of the economy, and demands that these are reduced as the economy grows. As per CSE’s observations, India has achieved 25 per cent of emission intensity reduction of GDP between 2005 -2016, and is on a path to achieve more than 40 per cent by 2030. But this means that India will have to take up enhanced measures to reduce emissions from the transport sector, the energy-intensive industrial sector, especially cement, iron and steel, non-metallic minerals, and chemicals. It would also require India to reinvent its mobility systems so that we can move people, not vehicles – augment public transport in our cities and improve thermal efficiency of our housing. All this will be in our best interest. 

Net zero by 2070

According to the IPCC, global emissions must become half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 (see CSE’s factsheet on net zero in Given the enormous inequity in emissions in the world, the OECD countries must then reach net zero by 2030, China by 2040 and India and the rest of the world by 2050. However, the targets for net zero are both inequitable and unambitious. As per this, OECD countries have declared net zero target for 2050 and China for 2060. 

Therefore, India’s net zero target of 2070 is an extension of this and cannot be argued against. However, this combined net zero goal will not keep the world below 1.5oC temperature rise and it means that OECD countries must frontload their emission reductions by 2030. Most importantly, China which will occupy 33 per cent of the remaining budget and must be asked to reduce its emissions drastically in this decade -- China alone will add 126 Gt in this decade. 

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