Council on Energy, Environment and Water Integrated | International | Independent
Deep Decarbonisation

Deep decarbonisation, across sectors, is imperative to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Our research focuses on modelling long-term energy and climate policy scenarios to understand the opportunities, challenges, synergies, and trade-offs of decarbonisation pathways, within the context of India’s developmental priorities and climate commitments. Some of the key themes explored include the future of coal, solar, and other energy sources in India’s electricity generation mix; cost implications of integrating variable renewable energy; transformation required to India’s energy systems in order to meet 2-degree C compatible pathways; and implications of uncertainties related to energy efficiency improvements.


Decarbonising Transport

India’s transportation sector is estimated to witness the fastest growth in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions across all sectors. The Council’s research on decarbonising transport includes evaluating policies for long-term decarbonisation of the transport sector, assessing challenges related to electric vehicles and shared-mobility adoption, identifying potential of renewables to power Indian railways, and examining implications of a global shift to electricity-based public rail transit system.


Climate Negotiations

The Council supports and informs climate negotiations by publishing independent research, briefing policymakers, convening stakeholder engagements, informing the media, contributing to the India Pavilion, and keeping the dialogue open through numerous channels. Our team is currently focusing on building an effective Paris Rulebook and examining issues such as enhanced transparency, capacity building, climate finance, and the global stocktake.


Climate - Energy - Water Nexus

Water is a scarce commodity in India, and this scarcity could have important implications in devising appropriate energy and climate policies. The Council’s research on the nexus aims at understanding the complex inter-linkages between climate, energy, and water, both at the macro level, as well as at the local level. Our team’s recent focus has been on understanding water consumption needed for power generation and examining water efficient technologies for thermal power plants.


Low-Carbon Pathways

Low-Carbon Pathways

The Low-Carbon Pathways team seeks to support policymakers and the research community with robust quantitative and qualitative analysis for improved understanding of low-carbon transition pathways within the context of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and national priorities. The research also focuses on informing national and state policies to meet global climate commitments. The team has strong capabilities in integrated assessment modelling, examining cross-sectoral synergies and trade-offs (energy-water-food-climate nexus, SDGs, the political economy of transition), and in sector-specific analyses (transport, agriculture, etc.).

  • 38% global carbon

    space (1000 GtCO2) estimated to be cornered by China, EU and the US by 2030
    Source: CEEW analysis 2016
  • 48%

    projected share of non-fossil fuel energy sources in India’s electricity generation capacity by 2030
    Source: CEEW analysis 2018
  • 48%

    decline in energy sector CO2 emissions intensity between 2005 and 2030
    Source: CEEW analysis 2018
  • Historical responsibility matters and we need to build a basis of differentiated responsibility. In recent years, climate change discourse has seen the focus shift to renewable energy. Going forward, equal importance must be given to energy-efficient technologies. I compliment The Council's research focusing on internalising our longstanding sustainability goals.

    Montek Singh Ahluwalia

    Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Government of India; Trustee, CEEW

  • The book, Energizing India, will start a public debate towards developing long-term sustainable policies to strengthen the Indian energy sector and to promote low-carbon growth.

    Suresh Prabhu

    Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, and Civil Aviation

  • I appreciate CEEW’s initiative to host this conference and invite them to partner with us by contributing to our preparation of the INDCs and to the various studies that we will undertake.

    Prakash Javadekar

    Union Minister of Human Resource Development

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Our Low-Carbon Pathways Team


Implications of Shared Socio-economic Pathways for India’s Long-term Electricity Generation and Associated Water Demands

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September 2017 |

Citation: Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Poonam Nagarkoti, Rudresh Sugam, Kangkanika Neog, and Mohamad Hejazi (2017) ‘Implications of shared socio-economic pathways for India’s long-term electricity generation and associated water demands’, September



This study is the first India-focused analysis of long-term electricity generation and associated emissions. Ensuring access to electricity is one of the foremost challenges faced by policy makers in developing economies. As the economy grows, increase in electricity demand and rise in end-use services are bound to happen. Water demand in power plants is a critical issue requiring the immediate attention of global policy makers and other stakeholders.

The study examines various possible evolutions of India’s electricity generation sector across five different Shared Socio-Economic Pathways (SSPs). SSPs are narratives that have been developed recently to better understand mitigation and adaptation challenges SSPs describe different visions of the future world based on analysis of underlying social, economic, and technological drivers.

Tuticorin Thermal Power Station (Wikimedia Commons)

Key Highlights

  • India is a water-scarce country. The utilisable water resource was estimated to be only 1123 billion cubic metres (bcm), 28 per cent of the total water resources available.
  • Six hundred and eighty bcm of this was estimated as consumption across sectors in 2000, with the irrigation sector accounting for 88 per cent.
  • Eighty-four per cent of coal-based capacity and 100 per cent of gas-based capacity is based on cooling tower technology. 75 per cent of inland nuclear-based capacity uses cooling towers.

Electricity generation by source

Electricity generation by source (CEEW Analysis)

  • Seventy-five per cent of seawater-based coal power plant capacity and 100 per cent of gas power-based capacity uses cooling tower systems.
  • The electricity generation mix ranges from a 65 per cent share of solar and wind in 2095 in the sustainable world under SSP1 to an 88 per cent share of coal in 2095 under the fossil-intensive SSP5 scenario.
  • Water consumption by India's inland thermal power plants will increase by 4.0- 5.6 per cent per annum in the absence of dry cooling technology between 2015 and 2050, and by 6.5 per cent per annum under SSP5.
  • The challenge to adaptation will be especially high in the SSP3 and SSP4 worlds (which take regional rivalries and social inequalities into account, respectively), with mutual cooperation and equal access to resources coming under threat.
  • The role of dry cooling will be critical to India’s adaptation to rising water demands in thermal power plants.
The rate at which India’s electricity and related water demands could evolve will be defined mainly by how India’s population, income, lifestyle, policies, institutions, and technology evolve in the future.

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Shaping the Global Stocktake Process Under the Paris Agreement

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September 2017 |

Citation: Sumit Prasad, Karthik Ganesan, Vaibhav Gupta (2017) ‘Shaping the Global Stocktake Process Under the Paris Agreement’, September



The Paris Agreement gives provision of the periodic Global Stocktake (GST) to establish the collective progress and efforts of the Parties. This issue brief captures views of a few developing country Parties on the matter of GST, while considering desired level of flexibilities on expected reporting requirements. It is second in our series of working papers/ issue briefs where the former focuses on Parties’ views on the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement.

There is a need to define a systematic approach that would capture the efforts of the Parties in a comprehensive manner and help in enhancing international cooperation on climate actions.

The GST should encompass efforts pertaining to mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and means of implementation and support (finance, technology & capacity building), and bring about a balance between these competing actions.

Source: @JshPhotog @GreenpeaceAR / @EverydayClimateChange

Key Highlights

  • A majority of developing countries support a comprehensive, facilitative, Party- driven, transparent, and equitable model for the GST process.
  • A coordination mechanism needs to be developed between the GST process and the working agenda on transparency, NDCs, adaptation communication and compliance committee.
  • Institutional arrangements and reporting mechanisms under the UNFCCC must be utilised to the fullest, while discussing the modalities for the GST.
  • The process must remain bottom-up and make outcomes available on easily accessible public platforms.

Information, sources and associated bodies for GST process

Information National inventory report (CTF for Developed Parties) BUR/BR National Communication National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Capacity Building Portal ICA / IAR Reports Assessment/Synthesis Report (IPCC) Report on work of other bodies under COP
Means of implementation & Support      
Progression &
Note   Suggested primary sources of input
  Suggested alternative sources of input
  Verification method to be adopted

Source: CEEW Analysis

  • The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) has identified 3 emerging models under which GST could operate. The phases (preparatory, technical and political) described under these 3 models are overlapping in nature, and would interact with each other defining a holistic approach.
  • The GST should help build trust and create a space for positive feedback, besides showcasing the collective progress and efforts taken by the Parties.
  • The GST should take a stock of forward looking components (carbon budget, support needed) and drive home the need to move towards a global emissions cap.
GST should be practical not limited to the narrow task of collecting data. Besides showcasing the collective progress and efforts taken by the Parties, it should help build trust and creating a space for positive feedback, and take a stock of forward looking components (carbon budget, support needed).

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Can Asia Change the Climate?Risks, Responses and Leadership for Climate Action

July 2017 |

Citation: Arunabha Ghosh (2017) 'Can Asia Change the Climate?: Risks, Responses and Leadership for Climate Action', Changing Asia Series Lecture at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, 25 July



Arunabha Ghosh delivered a public lecture 'Can Asia Change the Climate?: Risks, Responses and Leadership for Climate Action' hosted by the Society for Policy Studies in association with the India Habitat Centre, as part of the 'Changing Asia Series' on 25 July 2017 in New Delhi.

In his lecture, Dr Ghosh argued, "Asia’s role should be to persevere for a different kind of climate politics, a reformulated climate economics, and an inclusive climate ethics. We need to resist false pretensions of grandeur about climate leadership. It is a collective burden we carry. Asia is poised for climate leadership. Except it is not the bravado of leadership that must titillate us; rather it is the quiet self-confidence that comes from knowing – and shaping – the future.”

The lecture premised on six propositions: climate risks for Asia are real and now; climate responses in Asia are aggressive but inadequate; climate leadership is diffuse and misunderstood; climate politics needs a reimagining of institutions; climate economics needs to defeat persisting mercantilism; and climate ethics needs more voices in ungoverned terrains.

New voices and issues are required in climate ethics, from explaining energy transitions, to governing geoengineering, to calling for a more open, inclusive and transparent climate regime.

Further, Arunabha defined three different Asias when it comes to climate politics:

  • China, which stands apart in terms of its economic size and share of emissions.
  • India along with several other South and South East Asian economies which are rapidly growing and still have hundreds of millions in poverty.
  • The Central and West Asian economies with limited diversification in their economic structure and limited capabilities to develop the industries of the future.

Arunabha Ghosh at the ‘Can Asia Change the Climate?: Risks, Responses and Leadership for Climate Action', Changing Asia Series Lecture at India Habitat Centre (CEEW)

Climate leadership is a misunderstood concept; indeed, it is a constructed ideal, when the passing of one leader allows for the crown to be immediately placed on another’s head.

Read the complete lecture here.An excerpt of the lecture was published in The Times of India.

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Gauging Our Big Bets In 2018

Business World, January 2018

Decarbonising the Indian RailwaysScaling Ambitions, Understanding Ground realities

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April 2018 |

Citation: Aditya Ramji, Shruti Nagbhushan, and Kapardhi Bharadwaj (2017) 'Decarbonising the Indian Railways: Scaling Ambitions, Understanding Ground Realities', March



As India transitions to a low-carbon emissions pathway, the Indian Railways has set an ambitious goal of reduction in emissions. This study identifies key policy and regulatory challenges that developers face while supporting the Railways’ renewable energy push, and provides recommendations for both central and state bodies to facilitate a smooth ecosystem for ensuring developer and investor confidence. It follows up on a policy brief, ‘Greening the Tracks: Achieving the 1 gigawatt solar PV target of the Indian Railways.’

The Railways’ target is to reduce its emissions intensity to 33 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. This includes focus on improvement of rail traction energy and fuel efficiency of 8- 13 per cent from 2013 levels. In recent years, the Indian Railways has taken significant strides to increase the share of renewable energy in its electricity mix, which includes solar and wind, to reduce energy costs as well as carbon emissions.

The brief was launched at The Council’s ‘National Conference on Decarbonising the Indian Railways’ by Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister for Railways, and Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, and Mines on 5 April 2017 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Key Findings

  • The Indian Railways are already on track to achieving the 1 GW target. With the same momentum a potential target of 5 GW could be achieved by 2025.
  • The Railways could draw up to 25 per cent of its electric power needs from renewables if the 5 GW target is achieved.
  • With an estimated 1.1 GW coming from rooftop and 3.9 GW from utility scale projects, this target would require an investment of USD 3.6 billion.
  • If this target is achieved, it would take India a step closer towards achieving its 175 GW renewables target by 2022 as well as its INDC commitment of 40 per cent non-fossil fuel installed power capacity.
Indian Railways’ ambitious renewable energy push will not only lower energy bills for the Railways but will also advance India’s climate goals and serve as a role model for low-carbon public transportation across the world.

Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines at the National Conference on Decarbonising the Indian Railways. (Source: CEEW)

Key Recommendations

  • Develop technical and regulatory guidelines for renewable integration for traction operations, which would involve agreements between the Railways, State Utilities, and Solar Developers.
  • Resolve the issue of clearances for the Railways to operate as a distribution licensee in open access networks to bring down the costs of power procurement.
  • Standardise Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), working jointly with central and state electricity regulators.
  • Create a platform for regular engagement with solar developers, to discuss concerns with regards to technical and regulatory requirements.

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