India’s Transition to a Net-Zero Economy Offers $15 Trillion Investment Opportunity

India’s Transition to a Net-Zero Economy Offers $15 Trillion Investment Opportunity

Last Updated: NOVEMBER 12, 2021

India’s transition towards a net-zero economy can contribute over $1 trillion by 2030 and $15 trillion by 2070 in economic impact, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has said in a report. The transition will also provide over 50 million new jobs.

The report said that the transition to low-carbon energy provides the most significant economic opportunity and accounts for $5-$7 trillion of the overall $15 trillion worth of economic opportunity.

India aims to become a net-zero economy by 2070 and has set a target of installing a non-fossil energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the COP26 Summit at Glasgow, Scotland.

India is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter, following the United States and China. Sectors like energy, agriculture, industry, transportation, and infrastructure contribute over 96% of the country’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

GHG Measured in Metric Tons

To achieve a net-zero economy, India must focus on low-carbon energy, green mobility, decarbonization of energy-intensive industries, green infrastructure and cities, and sustainable agriculture

Low-carbon energy

India is the third-largest power-consuming nation. The energy sector represents 40% of India’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of this, the combustion of coals accounts for 65% of total carbon dioxide emissions. The WEF report said that the country’s power consumption would increase by 4%-5%, compounded annual growth rate over the upcoming decade.

The country’s green energy transition needs to enhance with more renewable solutions like hybrid plus thermal, storage, and bundled solutions. India needs to phase out its coal power by 2060 to become a net-zero economy. The country’s solar and wind capacity should be over 7,400 GW by 2070 from the existing 100 GW.

The green energy transition will require significant investment in new energy infrastructure. In addition, reducing energy wastage in the distribution network through digital means and of aggregate technical and commercial loss can be crucial for emissions reduction.

Green mobility

The WEF report said that the transportation sector contributes to around 10% of its greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020, around 60% of India’s overall energy use in transport was from passenger transport and 40% from freight transport.

Indian Railways is the most energy-efficient mode of transport as it accounts for only 3% energy share in passenger transport energy for a 25% share in passenger transport activity. It also has a high reliance on the power generated from renewables to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this year,  Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said that the Indian rail network would be fully electrified by 2023 and run on renewable energy by 2030.

The transport sector is significantly dependent on oil and accounts for India’s 50% oil demand. Oil demand has doubled in the past two decades due to increasing vehicle ownership and road transport usage.

For its shift towards green mobility, the report noted that India must continue evolving its fuel efficiency standards with global standards. The country should also increase the usage of sustainable fuels like biofuels, gas-based fuels, and sustainable aviation fuel based on hydrogen technology.

The electrification of the transport sector would require a coordinated effort from auto original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), charging infrastructure providers, and government policymakers over the coming decades. The share of electric cars and trucks may need to reach 84% and 79%, respectively, by 2070.

The green mobility transformation is expected to provide investment opportunities worth $2-$4 trillion in the upcoming decades.

Decarbonization of energy-intensive industries

India’s manufacturing industries are a significant contributor to its carbon dioxide emissions. Iron, steel, cement, chemicals, and fertilizers sectors have the highest emission footprints and increase with economic growth and urbanization.

For their decarbonization, the sectors must continue energy-efficiency improvements; use carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies; deploy new technologies with non-fossil feedstock; use zero-carbon fuels like biomass and green hydrogen.

The sectors’ transition will require investment in research and development to make new technologies, including affordable hydrogen. The government should provide support and incentives to sectors to move towards sustainable technologies.

The report noted that the decarbonization of energy-intensive industries would offer India a $2-$3 trillion investment opportunity.

Green buildings, infrastructure, and cities

In India, the top 25 cities account for over 15% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. The design of carbon-efficient new buildings and the modification and enforcement of building energy codes to track the energy performance of new and existing buildings can help reduce urban carbon dioxide emissions.

Green buildings, infrastructure, and cities could offer India a $2-$3 trillion investment opportunity.

Sustainable agriculture

The agriculture sector and livestock account for 18% of overall greenhouse gas emissions. For India, the shift to sustainable agriculture will be one of the most complex transitions. It will require a campaign to educate and enable over 100 million farmers to adopt precision agriculture to reduce carbon emissions. Precision agriculture includes reducing the usage of nitrogen and urea, sustainable animal husbandry, and shifting to renewable energy from diesel pumps.

Green finance

The report said that India needs a multifold growth in government and private capital flows to build new green infrastructure, develop new technologies, and encourage individuals to shift to greener consumption patterns. A mature green finance sector would be critical for India’s net-zero transition.

The country has an opportunity to tap into deep pools of international capacity by reducing frictions and challenges that raise the capital cost for Indian projects. The potential roadmap to tap international funds includes measures to reduce hedging costs, adapt external commercial borrowing guidelines, and pragmatic use of innovation and de-risking instruments to help more projects reach expected risk/return profiles.

India needs to have clear execution plans, long-term policy stability, and financial infrastructure to attract foreign investment at a much higher scale for rapid solar market expansion.

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Along with renewables, carbon capture could help India transition to a net zero economy

Along with renewables, carbon capture could help India transition to a net zero economy

Last Updated: NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Economy- The projections for the more rapid reduction indicate that fossil fuels in primary energy production would have to fall to 5% of the total by 2030 without CCUS.

Net Zero has become the focal point for action to deal with global warming and climate change induced by human activities. It does not take account of past emissions, which have already led to significant climate impacts. The methods used to achieve net zero goals announced by various countries are also subject to manipulation and fuzziness; actual reductions may not be as advertised. Nevertheless, it represents the next step in the difficult global challenge of arresting a process that will otherwise lead to disastrous outcomes for much of the planet.

At COP26, many countries agreed to goals of achieving Net Zero by 2050. While these goals may be too timid to stave off catastrophe, they do represent progress over previous agreements. However, countries like India, which are still relatively poor (China is four times as rich as India, for example), have been reluctant to commit to goals that will keep large segments of their populations from improving their material well-being to the point that they can enjoy decent lives. The case here is that advanced countries, which created the current mess with their past emissions, should rightfully do more to fix the problem. At COP26, India did agree to a goal of Net Zero by 2070.

Even this less ambitious goal will require considerable planning and investment. There are really three issues that are operative here. One, as mentioned, is what should global emission reductions be, and how should they be shared? Second, who should pay for the costs of achieving these reductions? Third, how exactly are these emission reductions to be achieved? Many advanced economies have shown a remarkable reluctance to own the problem they created. One common method of distorting the debate is to focus on total emissions, which makes China and India seem like villains simply because of their population sizes. In fact, their per capita emissions are low, though China’s have been rising extraordinarily rapidly. But since they are large, what they do matters. An obvious approach is for richer countries to pay for poorer countries to make the investments needed for emissions reductions. They have not been doing enough.

At the same time, India has to be proactive in its own approach. There are domestic as well as global benefits to shifting to cleaner energy sources. For example, reduced air pollution will save lives and reduce negative health impacts. In mapping India’s strategy, rhetoric such as complaints about ‘carbon imperialism’ is unhelpful. This has been used in India to argue against substituting renewable energy sources for coal, which currently fuels most of India’s electric power generation. Certainly, a shift out of coal will create large adjustment costs for vulnerable populations. But the answer is not to denigrate renewable energy sources like solar and wind, but to develop an effective multipronged strategy.

A recent paper by Ankur Malyan and Vaibhav Chaturvedi of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) in New Delhi, offers some calculations and insights into a strategy that uses Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) in a supporting role. CCUS is still to be deployed at scale, but experience in other countries suggests it may be a useful part of emission reduction, through use in retrofitted coal-fired power plants, as well as other industrial plants. Its costs mean that it will require subsidies or tax credits to be deployed (something the US is doing), but these can be set off against the high costs and disruption of trying to restructure the energy system too quickly. The subsidies required seem to be less than the global social cost of carbon.

Along with further development of solar power (likely the best renewable alternative), and increased efficiency in the distribution and use of electric power, CCUS may play an important role over the next decade or two in supporting India’s transition to Net Zero. Indeed, my reading of the analysis and numbers behind the CEEW report suggests that India can reasonably think of aiming for Net Zero by 2050 with CCUS in the mix. If correct, this is an important implication, because India’s adoption of Net Zero by 2070 seems to be far too slow in its implied trajectory for reduction of carbon emissions.

The projections for the more rapid reduction indicate that fossil fuels in primary energy production would have to fall to 5% of the total by 2030 without CCUS. The unreality of that target is what rules out the 2050 Net Zero goal. But with CCUS, fossil fuels could still provide 30 percent of the total, which seems attainable. There are still questions of feasibility and cost.  CCUS will require an ecosystem of new infrastructure, as well as testing and refining the new technologies. Here, targeted financial commitments from advanced economies and access to the needed intellectual property will be important, so international collaboration will be necessary and urgent. The whole world is going to struggle with these challenges for decades. India can choose to be a leader and not a victim.

The writer is a Professor of economics at University of California, Santa Cruz.

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COP26: New global climate deal struck in Glasgow

COP26: New global climate deal struck in Glasgow

Last Updated: NOVEMBER 14, 2021

Global climate deal- A deal aimed at staving off dangerous climate change has been struck at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The Glasgow Climate Pact is the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases.

The deal also presses for more urgent emission cuts and promises more money for developing countries – to help them adapt to climate impacts.

But the pledges don’t go far enough to limit temperature rise to 1.5C.

A commitment to phase out coal that was included in earlier negotiation drafts led to a dramatic finish after India and China led opposition to it.

India’s climate minister Bhupender Yadav asked how developing countries could promise to phase out coal and fossil fuel subsidies when they “have still to deal with their development agendas and poverty eradication”.

In the end, countries agreed to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal, amid expressions of disappointment by some. COP26 President Alok Sharma said he was “deeply sorry” for how events had unfolded.

ChartHe fought back tears as he told delegates that it was vital to protect the agreement as a whole.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped the world would “look back on COP26 in Glasgow as the beginning of the end of climate change”.

“There is still a huge amount more to do in the coming years. But today’s agreement is a big step forward and, critically, we have the first ever international agreement to phase down coal and a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees,” he said.

John Kerry, the US envoy for climate, said it was always unlikely that the Glasgow summit would result in a decision that “was somehow going to end the crisis”, but that the “starting pistol” had been fired.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the planet was “hanging by a thread”. “We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe… it is time to go into emergency mode – or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero.”

As part of the agreement, countries will meet next year to pledge further major carbon cuts with the aim of reaching the 1.5C goal. Current pledges, if fulfilled, will only limit global warming to about 2.4C.

If global temperatures rise by more than 1.5C, scientists say the Earth is likely to experience severe effects such as millions more people being exposed to extreme heat.

lineMain achievements of the deal:

  • Re-visiting emissions-cutting plans next year to try to keep 1.5C target reachable
  • The first ever inclusion of a commitment to limit coal use
  • Increased financial help for developing countries

line“We would like to express our profound disappointment that the language we agreed on, on coal and fossil fuels subsidies, has been further watered down,” Swiss environment minister Simonetta Sommaruga said. “This will not bring us closer to 1.5C, but make it more difficult to reach it.”

Despite the weakening of language around coal, some observers will still see the deal as a victory, underlining that it is the first time coal is explicitly mentioned in UN documents of this type.

Coal is responsible for about 40% of annual CO2 emissions, making it central in efforts to keep within the 1.5C target. To meet this goal, agreed in Paris in 2015, global emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and to nearly zero by mid-century.

“They changed a word but they can’t change the signal coming out of this COP – that the era of coal is ending,” said Greenpeace international executive director Jennifer Morgan.

Sea level infographicHowever, Lars Koch, a policy director for charity ActionAid, said it was disappointing that only coal was mentioned.

“This gives a free pass to the rich countries who have been extracting and polluting for over a century to continue producing oil and gas,” he said.

Sara Shaw, from Friends of the Earth International, said the outcome was “nothing less than a scandal”.

“Just saying the words 1.5 degrees is meaningless if there is nothing in the agreement to deliver it. COP26 will be remembered as a betrayal of global South countries,” she said.

Finance was a contentious issue during the conference. A pledge by developed nations to provide $100bn (£75bn) per year to emerging economies, made in 2009, was supposed to have been delivered by 2020. However, the date was missed.

It was designed to help developing nations adapt to climate effects and make the transition to clean energy. In an effort to mollify delegates, Mr Sharma said around $500bn would be mobilised by 2025.

People wade through a flooded street with their bicycles in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok
Scientists say extreme weather events, such as severe flooding, are becoming more frequent because of climate changeBut poorer countries had been calling throughout the meeting for funding through the principle of loss and damage – the idea that richer countries should compensate poorer ones for climate change effects they are unable to adapt to.

This was one of the big disappointments of the conference for many delegations. Despite their dissatisfaction, several countries that stood to benefit backed the agreement on the basis that talks on loss and damage would continue.

Delegations pushing for greater progress on the issue included those from countries in Africa, such as Guinea and Kenya, as well as Latin American states, small island territories and nations in Asia such as the Philippines.

Lia Nicholson, delegate for Antigua and Barbuda, and speaking on behalf of small island states, said: “We recognise the presidency’s efforts to try and create a space to find common ground. The final landing zone, however, is not even close to capturing what we had hoped.”

Shauna Aminath, environment minister for the low-lying Maldives, said: “We have 98 months to halve global emissions. The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is a death sentence for us.”

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COP26 concludes with compromise deal What the landmark climate summit achieved, and what it didn’t

COP26 concludes with compromise deal What the landmark climate summit achieved, and what it didn’t

Last Updated: NOVEMBER 16, 2021

Compromise Deal – Ahead of the conference, the United Nation’s climate change body released a report warning that the commitments made prior to COP26 would translate to a rise in the average temperature of up to 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.


  • What did come out of it was the Glasgow Climate Pact – an agreement secured by nearly 200 countries to increase efforts to reduce emissions
  • Over 40 countries got behind quitting coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel contributing most to carbon dioxide emissions by 2040. However, the pledge was dampened by China, India, the US and Australia – some of the largest coal consumers in the world – refraining from signing onto the pact
  • More than 140 countries also promised to end and reverse deforestation, including the US, Russia, Brazil and China. The countries that signed onto the pact, the BBC reports, account for 90 per cent of the world’s forest cover

After two weeks of intense deliberation, the landmark COP26, the 26th iteration of the United Nations climate conference ended this weekend. The summit brought together representatives from almost 200 nations to fine-tune the 2015 Paris Agreement.

It began with heavy optimism on the heels of a number of bombastic statements and pledges from various countries reassuring future reductions in carbon emissions. However, by the summit’s close, that sentiment had transformed into unease with experts suggesting that, while the conference performed its function of acting as a global platform for countries to negotiate and arrive at a consensus, the nature of the goals and pledges outlined was suspect.

What did come out of it was the Glasgow Climate Pact – an agreement secured by nearly 200 countries to increase efforts to reduce emissions and one that called on wealthy countries to double their funding to poorer countries that have historically contributed the least to climate yet remain most vulnerable to the associated fallout. However, as noted by the New York Times, the accord failed to outline a clear pathway to limiting global warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius (or even 2 degrees Celsius) threshold.

Ahead of the conference, the United Nation’s climate change body released a report warning that the commitments made prior to COP26 would translate to a rise in the average temperature of up to 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The pledges surrounding net-zero commitments and deforestation made at COP26 will, in theory, drive that figure down but experts remain unconvinced as to what extent they will, ultimately, materialise, particularly since the agreement includes no enforcement mechanism.

Nevertheless, there were some promising outcomes from the summit. Over 40 countries got behind quitting coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel contributing most to carbon dioxide emissions by 2040. However, the pledge was dampened by China, India, the US and Australia – some of the largest coal consumers in the world – refraining from signing onto the pact.

More than 140 countries also promised to end and reverse deforestation, including the US, Russia, Brazil and China. The countries that signed onto the pact, the BBC reports, account for 90 per cent of the world’s forest cover.

Curbing methane emissions was also seen as a low-hanging fruit ahead of COP26 and over 100 countries backed the Global Methane Pledge – an initiative to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 (compared to 2020 levels). The countries that signed onto the pledge are, reportedly, responsible for almost half of all global methane emissions. However, Russia, India and China – three of the key emitters – opted against making the commitment.

Additionally, the summit also yielded an unlikely agreement between China and the US – two of the world’s largest polluters – to collaborate in reducing emissions in the coming decades. Although details of the agreement are scant, experts hailed it as promising given the ongoing diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

The last week of the conference was characterised by a heated debate over climate financing. Although the final draft of the Glasgow Climate Pact acknowledged that the current proposals and pledges were deeply inadequate, it failed to arrive at material targets. The issue of loss and damage – that would see richer countries that have contributed disproportionately to the climate crisis to fuel their economic growth compensate lower-income, vulnerable nations – also did not find mention in the document.

A commitment made in 2009 to make $100 billion in climate-related financing available was also found to have not been met, with some experts pointing out that it may only be achieved by 2023. In view of this, several vulnerable countries called for climate financing targets to be doubled, with India calling for this to be raised to $1 trillion by 2030.

There are arguments to be made over whether meetings like COP26 are, indeed, the best venues to spotlight climate issues and negotiate pledges and measures but, the reality is that they do represent the few occasions where international discourse around the climate crisis can find grounding.

An important agreement struck at the latest summit, it bears mentioning, will see countries’ urged to take stock of and revise their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) at the next conference scheduled to take place in Egypt in 2022. As such, while climate activists have denigrated the outcome of the recent summit, COP26 did represent a step in the right direction.

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1.5°C Goal is Alive but, its Pulse is Weak COP26 Concludes global warming

1.5°C Goal is Alive but, its Pulse is Weak COP26 Concludes global warming

Last Updated: NOVEMBER 18, 2021

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) concluded with nearly 200 countries agreeing with the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep the target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. For the first time, the conference agreed to accelerate efforts towards the phase-down of coal power.

The text of the pact includes ‘phase-down of unabated coal power’ and ‘inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,’ as well as ‘mid-century net-zero.’ This language has never been included in UN text before.

Under the U.K. presidency and with the support of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, delegates forged agreements that strengthen collective climate action.

Climate negotiators ended two weeks of intense talks with a consensus on urgently accelerating climate action. The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means that 1.5°C remains in sight and scales up action on dealing with climate impacts.

Climate finance for developing countries

Finance was extensively discussed throughout the session, and there was consensus on the need to increase support to developing countries. The members welcomed the call to at least double finance for adaptation. The duty to fulfill the pledge of providing $100 billion annually from developed to developing countries was also reaffirmed. A process to define the new global goal on finance was launched.

COP26 also saw a record finance raising effort for the Adaptation Fund of over $350 million, thrice the previous highest. Contributions to the Least Developed Country Fund reached $600 million.

Richa Sharma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, speaking on behalf of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China),  made it clear that timelines and milestones were required to determine the exact magnitude of the new finance goal.

Sharma highlighted that the cover decisions of COP26 should remain within the confines of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement and be entirely consistent with its guiding principles of equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC).

Accelerating efforts to reduce emissions

On mitigation, the persistent gap in emissions was clearly identified. Members agreed to reduce that gap and ensure that the world continues to advance during the present decade so that the rise in the average temperature is limited to 1.5°C. Members were encouraged to strengthen their emissions reductions and align their national climate action pledges with the Paris Agreement.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had warned that limiting global warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be impossible unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Net Zero Emissions Targets

“We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5°C alive. But, its pulse is weak, and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action. I am grateful to the UNFCCC for working with us to deliver a successful COP26,” said Alok Sharma, U.K. President, COP26.

In addition, a key outcome is the conclusion of the so-called Paris rulebook. An agreement was reached on the fundamental norms related to Article 6 on carbon markets, which will make the Paris Agreement fully operational. This will give certainty and predictability to both market and non-market approaches in support of mitigation and adaptation. The negotiations on the enhanced transparency framework were also concluded, providing for agreed tables and formats to account and report for targets and emissions.

Earlier this year, the UN Environment Programme had released a report that said nations must boost their efforts to adapt to the changing climate scenario to avoid dire consequences in the future. The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020 stated that about 72% of countries had adopted at least one national-level plan for adaptation and most developing countries have one in the works.

Recently, the Economic Survey for 2021 had revealed that India would require around $206 billion (~$15 trillion) between 2015 and 2030 to fight climate change.

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Automakers reveal plans to go all-electric in 2021, COP26 a booster

Automakers reveal plans to go all-electric in 2021, COP26 a booster

Last Updated: NOVEMBER 08, 2021

New Delhi: The success of Tesla has pushed nearly all automakers to go all-electric in 2021, and the COP26 climate conference has provided a booster dose to initiate strategies for the supply of batteries, electric motors, power electronics and other components for a green future.With Renault in June, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis in July, to name a few, 2021 has become the year when mainstream automakers solidified their intent to become “all-electric” and transition further towards electrification.According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, there will be a step-change in the supply of batteries, electric motors, power electronics and other components associated with electrified powertrains, especially battery electric.

“To secure component supply and leading-edge technologies, the mainstream automakers have recently partnered with battery cell vendors, electric motor developers and semiconductor vendors. As well as raising production capacity, automakers seek battery cells with more energy density and faster charging capability,” said Kevin Mak, principal analyst in the Global Automotive Practice (GAP).The pace towards electrification has quickened because of tightening mandates (which could become even tighter following COP26) and in their attempts to catch-up on Tesla.”Some have resorted to the use of common platforms, from the likes of Foxconn and REE, to leverage the necessary economies of scale and ensure that their product offerings are affordable,” Mak mentioned in a report.Another result of this step-change in OEM (original equipment manufacturer) strategy is that the demand for hybrid powertrains will become more temporary, tapering-off in the long-term, as countries and states begin to impose a sales ban on new combustion engine-powered light vehicles.A”Demand for combustion engines could now peak in China, Europe and North America as soon as the mid-2020s timeframe as automakers prepare for an electric future,” the report noted.

As pressure mounts for urgent climate action, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a global roadmap to achieve a radical transformation of energy access and transition by 2030, while also contributing to net zero emissions by 2050.–IANS

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