India facing $10 trillion bill to deliver net zero

A leading think tank has warned that India would need cumulative investments of  over $10 trillion to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070 and developed nations will have to play their part in funding the transition.

The CEEW Centre for Energy Finance (CEEW-CEF) has issued an independent report in the country’s road to net zero and concluded it will come at a cost.

“These investments would help decarbonise India’s power, industrial, and transport sectors,” it stated.

The study estimated that India could face an investment shortfall of $3.5 trillion to achieve its net-zero target. Hence, investment support of $1.4 trillion, in the form of concessional finance, would be required from developed economies to mobilise foreign capital that bridges the gap.

The CEEW-CEF study ‘Investment Sizing India’s 2070 Net-Zero Target’ also highlighted that the majority of the investments would be needed to transform India’s power sector. It added investments, totalling $8.4 trillion, would be required to significantly scale up generation from renewable energy and associated integration, distribution and transmission infrastructure. Another $1.5 trillion would have to be invested in the industrial sector for setting up green hydrogen production capacity to advance the sector’s decarbonisation.

“At COP26, India announced bold near-term and long-term climate targets,” said Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW, said. “Our analysis finds that a transition to net-zero emissions would require mammoth investment support from developed countries.

“Developed countries must ramp up hard targets for climate finance over the coming years. Also, on the domestic front, financial regulators like RBI and SEBI need to create an enabling ecosystem for financing India’s transition to a green economy. Finally, given the size of the investments required, private capital, from both domestic and international institutions, should form the bulk of investment, while public funds should play a catalytic role by de-risking investments in existing and emerging clean technologies.”

The CEEW-CEF study also pointed out that India’s $1.4 trillion concessional finance requirement would not be uniformly spread across the five decades till 2070. The average annual concessional finance requirement would vary from $8 billion in the first decade to $42 billion in the fifth decade.

Vaibhav Pratap Singh, programme lead and lead author of the study explained: “India’s 2070 net-zero target is a bold commitment that would not only contribute to global decarbonisation efforts but would also shape how businesses and jobs of the future would look like. Traditional domestic and foreign sources such as domestic banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), and debt capital markets – both local and international – would not be able to fund the massive investments needed by themselves. Therefore, access to foreign capital, on concessional terms, would have to play a key role.”

Earlier this year CEEW undertook a study which estimated how five key sectors would need to evolve if India were to achieve net-zero by 2070.

According to that study, India’s total installed solar power capacity would need to increase to 5,630 gigawatts by 2070. The usage of coal, especially for power generation, would need to peak by 2040 and drop by 99% between 2040 and 2060. Further, crude oil consumption across sectors would need to peak by 2050 and fall substantially by 90% between 2050 and 2070. Green hydrogen could contribute 19% of the total energy needs of the industrial sector.

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