India’s INDC for Paris
India will likely need subsidies from developed countries to meet its INDC because it is subsidizing fossil fuels at the rate of $47 billion per year. Quite likely if it replaced some inefficient tax with a small tax on coal, it would be able to meet its INDC without any subsidy, although some Green Fund transfers to cover the cost of efficient abatement would still be recommended.
India’s INDC for Paris pledges to reduce emissions intensity by 33–35% between 2005 and 2030 (25 years). Compare this with the fact that China reduced it emissions intensity by 45% between 1990 and 2005 (15 years), and the fact that the US DOE expected India to reduce emissions intensity by 43% between 2005 and 2020, well before India made its Copenhagen pledge for that period.
The point is that countries, especially those with fast GDP growth rates frequently reduce their emissions intensity without making any attempt to do so. Typically as countries grow richer, GDP increases faster than energy use, and so emissions per GDP falls. However, India has so far not been following in China’s footstep, perhaps because it is not yet at that stage of development. In the 9 years between 2005 and 2014 it reduced it CO2 intensity by only 7.7%, so at that rate it would only achieve a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions intensity by 2030.
It should be noted that India’s INDC is conditional on $2.5 trillion of funding from developed countries. So it would appear that it is pledging to do what it hopes will happen without any special policy on its part, and if it does not, it can just blame its failure on the lack of funding.
India’s Pledge for Copenhagen
India committed to cutting its carbon intensity by 20 to 25 percent between 2005 and 2020. So 20% would be enough to keep its commitment. But “intensity” equals emissions divided by GDP, so intensity is reduced by increasing GDP, and India plans to increase that dramatically. But what was expected before India announced its mitigation action?
In May 2009, the U.S. Dept. of Energy estimated that India would reduce its emissions intensity by 43.5 percent. India had pledged to do almost, but not quite, half as well as what the US DOE expected them to do anyway.
Of course this intensity game is nothing new. Then President Bush used it on Valentines day 2001, when he promised to cut U.S. emissions intensity between 2000 and 2010 by 18 percent. That was two percent more than what we did in the previous 10 years without trying.
The spreadsheet below shows the data from DOE’s International Energy Outlook published eight months before China’s announced policy.