A major CO2 emitting country, India cancelled out emission reductions in 2015 by China and US

energy1Excerpts from “Trends in Global CO2 Emissions: 2016 Report”, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, 2016:

India continued to increase its CO2 emissions to 2.47 billion tonnes in 2015, which was 5.1% more than in 2014. This growth rate is similar to the one observed for 2013 and 2007, and a little below the average growth rate of 6.8% for the 2006–2015 period. If India continues with this average growth rate, it will surpass the total emissions in the European Union by 2020, assuming also that the European Union will decrease its emissions at the 2006–2015 average rate of 1.9% per year.

India’s emissions already surpassed those of the Russian Federation in 2009 and India meanwhile is a major emitting country, effectively cancelling out the emission reductions in 2015 by China and the United States. However, India’s per capita emissions of 1.9 tonnes CO2/cap are more than three times lower than the average per capita emissions in the EU and even lower than the average per capita emissions in developing countries. India’s emission increase seems to be coupled with its GDP growth.

In 2015, GDP continued to increase, with a growth rate of 7.6%, compared to 2014. This economic growth confirms a further acceleration of India’s economy over the past three years, and adds to the average growth over the past decade (2006–2015) of 7.4% (World Bank, 2016). Since 75% of India’s national economy consists of domestic demand, its GDP trend remains relatively unaffected by global financial recessions.

In 2013, coal combustion was responsible for 72% of its total fossil fuel combustion CO2 emissions, predominantly from power plants (47%) of fossil-fuel combustion emissions, but also a substantial fraction from the manufacturing industry (22%). The increase in CO2 emissions in 2015 was mainly caused by the 5.1% increase in Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES), i.e. energy consumption, in particular the 8.1% increase in oil consumption (with a TPES share of 27.9%), and the 4.8% increase in coal consumption (with a TPES share of 58.1%), according to BP (2016).

energyThe coal consumption increase is of concern, because in 2014 India’s emissions surpassed those of the United States and became the second largest coal consumer, after China. In the 1990–2010 period, India doubled its coal power capacity from 50 GW to 100GW, and then added another 102 GW in coal power, in the 2010–2015 period. In 2015 alone, 20.2 GW in new power plants were taken into operation, and another 12.7 GW were added in the first half of 2016. Currently, 64.7 GW is under construction and 178.2 GW is further permitted, according to the Global Coal Plant Tracker (2016).

The planned projects still need to overcome certain barriers, such as financially strapped electricity distribution companies, the insufficient rail transport capacity for domestic coal use and the high cost of coal imports. These are also the reasons for the diminished utilisation rate of 64.5% for the operational coal plants CEA (2015). India’s coal production increased by 7%, however these do not meet all of India’s needs, and further challenges for mining expansion include the evacuation of populated areas and the declining energy content and high ash content of the domestic coal.

In addition to increasing domestic coal mining, the Indian Ministry for Energy has set a target for increasing renewable energy by 175 GW, by 2021 (consisting of 100 GW in solar power and 60 GW in wind power), and a target for reducing grid transmission losses to 15% by 2019 (which is 6 percentage points under than what is currently perceived). Renewable energy, in 2015, increased by 13.7% in 2015, compared to 2014, yielding an electricity generation share of 2.2%. Also, nuclear energy increased by 9.6%, but still provides only an electricity generation share of 1.4%. India’s INDC contribution includes 40% non-fossil energy sources for power generation by 2030.

Aside of the power generation, India also increased its process emissions from cement production by 4.9%, in 2015, compared to 2014, which is in line with the cement production rate of 6% reported by ICRA (2016). A further increase in cement production is envisaged, in particular by increasing the utilisation rate from 72% to 77%. Steel sector process emissions in 2015 only increased by 2.4%, which is slightly more than the 1.7% increase in crude steel production, reported by WSA (2016), compared with 2014.

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