The Climate Futures Project

CEEW 2021

Unpacking ‘Implications of a Net-Zero Target for India’s Sectoral Energy Transitions and Climate Policy’

Key Highlights

Stated purpose
of the study
Key merits Scope for improvement
To address the gap of ‘informing the pathways and implications towards a net zero target’, across different net zero target and peaking years, and breakthrough technology costs.
With hydrogen and CCS technologies being amongst the most uncertain in terms of their commercial viability, this study contributes to our understanding by highlighting implications of their commercial viability (or lack thereof) on the overall energy supply system under different net-zero pressures using a cost optimisation approach.
However, the study is limited by insufficient reflection on uncertainties from other key factors such as socio-economic drivers (E.g., GDP, urbanisation, energy demand), or uncertainties in costs of other emerging technologies such as storage, especially given the broad stated purpose of ‘informing the pathways and implications towards a peaking year and net zero target’.

The study does not clarify financial, equity, or energy security implications of the energy transition; or the trade-offs between developmental and mitigation choices. Lastly, a discussion on pathways to overall net-zero would also benefit from explorations of non-energy emissions.

Model Assessment

Transparency and credibility of inputs Appropriateness of model choice to research objective Assessment of scenario construction process Approach to uncertainty Transparency and validation of outputs
Data and data sources are not transparently stated and based on multiple corroborating sources
Model structure is not transparent
Rationale for alternative scenario ‘storylines’ appropriate to study purpose, and adequately discussed and explained
Uncertainties in the input assumptions and results are not analysed and presented transparently
Outputs presented in a manner that facilitates consideration of how they are shaped by input assumptions, model mechanics, and scenarios
Data up-to-date, with the bounds of data availability constraints

Adequate discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the model structure, with respect to its fitness for purpose

Process through which these storylines were developed is not explained
Uncertainties associated with the model’s causal mechanisms (through which inputs are translated into key outputs) are not analysed and presented transparently
Implications of uncertainties in inputs and model structure not considered in reporting of results and consequent policy implications
Inputs justified through clear reasoning, particularly when based on projections
Application of model consistent with its design and structure; modelling approach fit for purpose
Scenarios account for alternative socio-economic pathways, in addition to technology development and adoption pathways
Model results analyse/represent how uncertainty may change with time
Results validated with efforts at validation clearly presented

Key Findings


This scenario assumes continued increases in GDP and income that results in more demand for consumer goods, and continued lowering of costs of low carbon technology, leading to more penetration across sectors.


Under this scenario, the peaking of emissions is expected to occur in 2030 with net zero achieved by 2050.


This is a lower ambition scenario that assumes the peaking- and net-zero occur beyond 2030-2050 respectively (i.e., 2030-2060, 2040-2070, and 2050-2080). The key assumption is emissions trends follow the reference scenario until the respective peak years, followed by linear declines up to the respective net zero years.
Note (before the following section): This study has a total 16 scenarios -based on combinations of four possible net-zero years and two levels of availability for each of two breakthrough technologies (CCS and Hydrogen) – in addition to one reference scenario. Of these, this fact sheet covers the 8 scenarios developed for two net-zero years – 2050 and 2070 – plus the reference scenario, . Results from the 2050 net-zero scenarios are bundled into one “Ambitious scenario” and from the 2070 net-zero scenarios into one “Emissions constraint scenario”.


Annual GDP Growth (%)

Unclear, approximately 5%

Job Growth Outcome

Data not listed,
but job increases expected in renewables


Peaking Year

2025 (Energy sector)

Emissions in Peaking Year (GtCO₂e)


Net Zero Year

2025 (Energy sector)

Energy Emissions in Net Zero Year (GtCO₂e)

Residual emissions of 1.3 GtCO₂e


RE Share in Electricity Generation and in Primary Energy (%)


Data not listed


Energy Investment Required

Data not listed

Interpretation of Model Results


The development pathway implicit in the study does not account for alternative patterns of urbanisation, demand, economic growth, and how these might affect emissions or be affected by climate policies. It instead assumes an extension of current development trends.


The energy transition pathways explored in this study are driven primarily on the deployment of hydrogen and CCS, with other energy technologies only adjusted in response to their deployment, to minimize system costs, and are thus narrow in scope. Importantly, pathways do not respond to variances in demand factors, which aren’t explored.


The study back-calculates technology needs for hydrogen and CCS under various peaking and net-zero emissions scenarios, and therefore isn’t designed to explore feasible emissions pathways. It does not include non-energy and agricultural energy emissions.


The study bases investment implications primarily on two levels of feasibility (high or low) of two technologies; however, it does not explore uncertainties in the costs of any technologies, or explain assumed shifts in investment patterns and the distribution of economic co-benefits and co-costs.


The study mentions elements of a just transition but does not address these in any detail, and does not discuss other distributive impacts, including those on vulnerable groups.


The study does not discuss implications of the energy transition pathway on energy security and import dependence.

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