India Needs to Set a National Goal on Energy Efficiency to Accelerate Net-Zero Emissions Progress

Why energy efficiency is important for India’s climate goals

A new policy brief by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has called for India to set a national goal on energy efficiency to accelerate its progress towards a net-zero emissions future.

The brief, titled “India: Transforming to a Net Zero Emission Energy System,” argues that energy efficiency is a critical “first fuel” that can help India reduce its energy consumption and emissions. It notes that if India continues with a business-as-usual approach, its primary energy demand will double between 2020 and 2050. However, through significant energy efficiency improvements, this growth in demand could be reduced by 20%.

The brief also highlights that several countries around the world have already set explicit energy efficiency targets as part of their climate mitigation policies. For example, the European Union has set a target of reducing its energy intensity by 40% by 2030.

India has a dedicated mission in the National Action Plan on Climate Change for enhancing energy efficiency. However, the brief argues that the country needs to go further and set a national goal on energy efficiency. This would help to ensure that energy efficiency is a top priority for policymakers and businesses, and that it is mainstreamed into all sectors of the economy.

The brief suggests three models for India to set up economy-wide energy efficiency targets. The first model involves defining the targets in short, medium, and long-term periods using modelling exercises. The second model recommends adopting a bottom-up approach involving stakeholders and sector-specific targets. The third model suggests a federal unit approach where states could determine their individual targets.

The brief concludes by arguing that establishing an economy-wide energy efficiency target would not only complement India’s nationally determined contributions but also facilitate a coordinated approach for rapid energy transitions.