India on Track to Beat its Paris Targets Years Ahead of Schedule, According to Government Report

by Natasha Geiling –

That would put the country on a path to meeting its Paris commitments several years early.

In ten years, India could get almost sixty percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, according to a government forecast published this week.

According to a draft of the country’s 10-year energy blueprint, the Indian government expects that 57 percent of the country total electricity capacity will come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027 — a marked increase over the country’s Paris goals, which say that the country will reach 40 percent non-fossil fuel electricity by 2030. The draft also noted that no new coal-fired power plants would be needed to meet India’s electricity demands through 2027.

“India is moving beyond fossil fuels at a pace scarcely imagined only two years ago,” Tim Buckley, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the Guardian. He also characterized the forecast as “absolutely transformational.”

India is the world’s fourth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, and was reluctant to formalize the Paris agreement as quickly as other countries earlier this year, citing concern that the country did not have the ability to meet its targets. But private investment has helped boost India’s renewable goals, even as the Indian government has lagged behind in funding renewable projects.

Over the past year, India has received a $20 billion dollar investment in its solar energy sector from Japan’s Softbank, and another $2 billion from the French energy company EDF. The U.S. government’s development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), along with the Indian government, also recently announced that it will launch a $20 million finance initiative to help fund renewable energy in India — though it’s unclear whether that initiative will remain under President-elect Trump, who has pledged to “cancel all wasteful climate change spending.”

India’s massive demand for electricity — some 240 million people have no access to electricity — coupled with the falling cost of renewable energy makes the country an intriguing market for investors. India’s recent announcement follows a year of record-breaking investment in renewable energy, with $286 billion invested globally in green energy.

Pollution has also been a motivating factor for India’s renewables push. Indian cities are some of the most polluted in the world, and New Delhi’s air pollution levels are literally off the charts — in November, air pollution measured 999 on an air pollution index that tops out at 500. China, which also deals with high levels of air pollution, has also begun turning to renewables in an effort to decrease toxic pollution.

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress