The potential for LCE in India

Surender Kumar, Shunsuke Managi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


With 20 percent of the world’s population, India has an enormous stake in promoting a low carbon, climate resilient economy (LCE) for itself as well as for the world. Its participation in the future climate regime will have implications not only for global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but also for climate resilience and security in Asia. In its submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in January 2010 following COP-15 in Copenhagen, India committed to a reduction in emissions intensity of 20 to 25 percent by 2020 (Government of India 2010a). To achieve this, an enormous effort will be required. Today, strong economic growth is driving India to dramatically increase its energy consumption and emissions by four to five times (Kumar and Managi 2009; Government of India 2006). Coal use contributes to about two-thirds of India’s carbon dioxide (CO while biomass burning and agriculture are the main sources of methane and nitrous oxide (N tion capacity contributes to about 55 percent, followed by hydro and natural gas. The dominance of coal, which is the largest source of CO to continue into the future (TERI 2006). In 2008, India became the third largest emitter with 1.74GTCO the world’s total. In addition, the country emits significant amounts of high global warming potential (GWP) gases such as methane and N Nevertheless, India’s contribution to the climate problem has so far been small. It is responsible for 2 percent of accumulated global GHG emissions, much lower than the emissions from China, the US, and the EU. The per capita emissions in 2008 are around 1.2 tonnes per year, compared to the global average of 4.4 tonnes. While India is not obligated to reduce GHG emissions under the UNFCCC, it has begun considerable efforts to reduce GHGs without sacrificing its right to development. Indeed, it has become the leading voice of the developing world’s perspective on climate change following COP-8 in New Delhi. Improving India’s climate resilience plays a crucial role for sustainable develop- ment including economic wealth, technology, information and skills, infrastructure, and institutions. The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report states that India and its neighbors will bear the brunt of negative impacts of climate change such as glacier melts, droughts, and extreme climate events leading to widespread disruptions to food production, water supply, coastal settlements, forest ecosystems, health, and energy security. In addition, there are geopolitical risks with Pakistan as both countries share the same source of water from the Himalayas. The lack of access to convenient and efficient energy services is a major barrier to achieving vital and long-lasting solutions to poverty. Although India’s economy has been experiencing a decline in energy intensity of GDP since 1995, the current growth of energy use, largely based on fossil fuels, is driven by economic activities and population growth. As 1.2 billion Indians still aspire to urbanize along with 600 million who lack electricity, there will be implications not only for GHG emissions but also energy security and equitable access to energy (Government of India 2008). Nevertheless, the recent outcome of economic reforms is resulting not only in higher electrification rates, but also directly in the decline of per capita energy, electricity, and carbon intensities of the Indian economy. This chapter examines whether progress and prospects for rapid transition to LCE are technically and financially sustainable. The barriers and opportunities are also analyzed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClimate Smart Development in Asia
Subtitle of host publicationTransition to Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Economies
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781136496929
ISBN (Print)9781844078615
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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