Decades of Growth Left for Indian Demand

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised at COP26 with his pledge to bring India’s net emissions to zero by 2070. But anyone expecting a rapid transition away from fossil fuels for India is mistaken. Already the world’s second-largest consumer of coal, its third-largest for oil and fourth largest for LNG, there should still be decades of further growth before India reaches peak consumption of any of these fossil fuels. About 70% of India’s emissions are linked to the energy sector, meaning that the net-zero pathway will over time disrupt the country's heavily fossil fuel-dependent energy system. But the oil and gas industry, which is counting on significant growth from India and other large Asian economies in coming years, is unruffled because of the long timeframes to hit targets. To reach net-zero by 2070, coal consumption must peak by 2040, reckons Delhi-based think-tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). Comparatively, crude oil would have until 2050 and gas 2050-55 for peaking. Moreover, carbon capture and storage could further extend gas’ life.

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