India: moving toward a low carbon future


Updated Mon, 12 Jan 2015 13:13:19 GMT

Despite the recent global economic slowdown, India continues to be one of the largest economies in the world with a GDP projected to grow by some 6.5% by the end of 2015. In recent years, this growth, which has been accompanied by increased emissions, has raised national concerns about climate change. The Indian government is moving to reduce emissions intensity to protect its people and environment and grow a low carbon economy. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has outlined a few of the steps that India is taking to achieve this.

Climate change

India released its National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008 and Prime Minister Modi has recently announced ambitious clean energy goals to help meet the country’s rising energy demand. According to the Planning Commission, if India implements its current climate change initiatives under a ‘Baseline Inclusive Growth’ scenario, by 2030 the country could reduce its emissions intensity by 22% relative to 2007 levels; under a ‘Low Carbon Inclusive Growth’ scenario, reductions could reach 42%.

Clean energy

India participates in several bilateral programmes to promote clean energy with countries including Germany, the UK and the USA. For example, India and the United States have implemented the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) to drive renewables research, deployment, and finance. Following a bilateral summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama in September 2014, the two leaders prioritised advancing climate action and clean energy.Furthermore, India’s renewable energy market has grown substantially in recent years, with investment in solar and wind power at the forefront. The new Modi government has announced a US$100 billion investment in India’s clean energy sector over the next few years. India’s flagship National Solar Mission aims to install 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022. The country is also aiming to achieve 40 GW of onshore wind power by 2019, doubling its currently installed wind capacity.

Sustainable construction

Indian cities are projected to increase by more than 400 million people by 2050, triggering growth in the construction market. This growth presents an opportunity to develop the country’s energy efficiency, especially in new construction. The country has increased its registered green floor area from just 20 000 ft2 in 2004 to 2.59 billion ft2 as of November 2014, with 562 certified projects and 2847 registered projects.

With a view toward spurring energy efficient building construction, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) launched the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) in 2007 and plans to make it mandatory nationally by 2017. Seven of India’s 29 states have made the code mandatory as of June 2014, and 15 more plan to follow. Since 2010, India has mandated that all new government buildings be certified by the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA).

Energy efficiency

Under India’s Enhanced Energy Efficiency Mission, the Perform, Achieve, and Trade (PAT) programme was launched to encourage energy-intensive industries in India, such as thermal coal power plants and cement and steel manufacturing, to become global efficiency leaders. The programme aims to eliminate 25 million t of CO2 by 2015 through an energy efficiency cap and trade scheme.