TERI charts India’s path to net zero by 2070 with new conceptual framework

Expert-led study highlights key strategies and sectoral triggers for decarbonizing major emitting sectors, emphasizing economic growth decoupling from carbon emissions

New Delhi, 21th May 2024: In a significant step toward achieving India’s net zero target by 2070, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) presented a discussion study entitled ‘India’s Journey to Net Zero: A Conceptual Framework for Analysis’.

During the session, TERI unveiled a conceptual framework that qualitatively identifies the main carbon-emitting sectors in India, such as electricity, transport, industry, agriculture, and residential cooking. The study assumes India would become a developed nation soon and per capita carbon emissions would reach the level of advanced economies. The emissions would reach a peak and follow a decline trajectory. The study focuses on importance of decoupling India’s growth with carbon emissions.  With India’s vision of Viksit Bharat by 2047, the study is crucial and assesses the pathways and studies that would be required for India’s low carbon trajectory.

Mr Nitin Desai, Chairman, TERI, commented on the significance of the session, stating, “In many ways, focus has been decoupling the growth in supply from carbon emissions.  He also reiterated the focus to decouple demand side growth from carbon emissions. With a rise in emissions, for example, heat in urban areas would lead to more cooling requirements. Redesigning buildings so that they do not require as much cooling as they would require today.  Reducing demand for transportation would also lead to emission reductions. Therefore, reducing carbon emissions from demand side would also lead to reduction in carbon emissions.”

Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General of TERI, highlighted the need for more in-depth research following the initial findings. “This study provides a simplified macro view of the transition to net zero. It is now time to undertake more rigorous sectoral analysis, including detailed modeling, scenario generation with cost implications, and projections of alternative pathways down the cost curve.” Dr Dhawan mentioned that the intent is to begin dialogues on what is required to achieve to net zero and she invited stakeholders for their valuable inputs and suggestions.

The event also featured insights from Mr Ajay Shankar, Distinguished Fellow at TERI, who led the commissioning of the study. He outlined the initial exercises that chart a pathway for emissions to peak and then decline, marking crucial steps toward decoupling economic growth from increases in carbon emissions. The paper suggests that peaking of emissions from electricity sector would be feasible at no additional cost. Reduction of emissions from electricity generation would have a cost. This cost would be lower, the sooner emissions peak. Transport and cooking can switch to electricity with cost reduction. As emissions from electricity reach zero and all transport becomes green, about 55% of our present emissions would get eliminated.

 India’s proactive approach, including the launch of the National Hydrogen Mission, is expected to significantly contribute to the decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors and reinforce India’s status as a responsible leader in global climate action. Pilot projects in the hard-to-abate sector would be key to reaching net zero emissions.

In the concluding remarks, Mr Girish Sethi, Program Director, TERI emphasized the role of non-state actors including corporate sector to reach to net zero. He mentioned the Industry Charter for Near zero emission ambition by 2050 instituted by TERI.  The corporate sector would also play a key role for India’s net zero target and technology innovation and policy instruments would be required for transition, he emphasized.

The discussion concluded by emphasizing that while the path to net zero is challenging, the collective effort of all stakeholders will be pivotal in navigating this complex journey. This framework proposes key strategies for each sector and calls for detailed studies to develop feasible pathways for achieving net zero emissions. The central theme of the discussion emphasized the urgent need to dissociate carbon emission growth from economic growth to ensure sustainable development.

The session was hosted as a part of TERI’s 50-year celebrations.

The link to the report: Discussion paper on India’s Journey to Net Zero: A Conceptual Framework for Analysis | TERI (teriin.org)

About TERI

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), based in India, is an independent, multi-dimensional research organization with capabilities in policy research, technology development, and implementation. An innovator and agent of change in the energy, environment, climate change and sustainability space, TERI has pioneered conversations and action in these areas for nearly five decades. Headquartered in New Delhi, it has centres in six Indian cities, and is supported by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, sociologists, economists, engineers, administrative professional and state-of-the-art infrastructure.