Friday, May 27, 2011

India's Emissions in a Climate Constrained World (Energy Policy)

Paper published in Energy Policy, June, 2011


Scientific studies have repeatedly shown the need to prevent the increase in global emissions so that the planet's average temperature does not exceed 2 °C over pre-industrial levels. While the divisions between Annex 1 and non-Annex nations continue to prevent the realization of a comprehensive global climate treaty, all members of the G-20 (incidentally also major emitters) have agreed to prevent the rise in global temperatures above 2 °C. This requires that nations consider budgeting their carbon emissions. India presents a unique case study to examine how a major emitter facing a desperate need to increase energy consumption will meet this challenge. The Greenhouse Development Rights (GDR) framework, perhaps considered the most favorable with respect to the responsibility and capacity of India to reduce emissions, was used to explore India's emissions trajectory. India's emissions have been pegged to the pathway required to meet the 2 °C target by non-Annex countries. The results have been compared to the expected emissions from 11 energy fuel mix scenarios up to the year 2031 forecasted by the Planning Commission of India. Results reveal that none of the 11 energy scenarios would help India meet its emissions target if it were to follow the 2 °C pathway. A thought experiment is followed to explore how India may meet this target. This includes a sensitivity analysis targeting coal consumption, the biggest contributor to India's emissions.

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