India's rapid transition: the Modi government's climate change and development plan

This paper is part of a series of briefing papers that examine the climate change policies of the countries key to a global agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Paris 2015, and its effective and ongoing implementation.

Executive Summary

The Government of India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is currently undertaking a rapid transition in its electricity, agriculture, and cities and urban transport sectors in order to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and enhance climate resilience while at the same time, stimulate social and economic development.

This briefing paper argues that the Modi government and major industrialised countries have a shared interest in fasttracking India’s low-pollution and climate-resilient development plan (operationalised in the above sectors) and therefore, a shared interest in negotiating and implementing a strong global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Key findings:

  • India’s cities, villages and rural areas are highly vulnerable to the physical impacts of climate change, including increasingly frequent floods, droughts, and heatwaves, all of which have the potential to cause significant food shortages and major health crises.
  • The Modi government’s low-pollution and climate-resilient development plan can reduce the impacts of climate change in India while also delivering many social, economic and environmental benefits, for instance electrifying the homes of the poor, creating rural employment opportunities for young people, and averting premature deaths from acute respiratory infections from indoor and outdoor air pollution.
  • India’s actions are very important in moving forward a strong agreement in Paris and avoiding dangerous global climate change.
  • India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution lodged to the UNFCCC in October 2015 estimates that more than $US2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) will be required to meet India’s low-pollution and climate-resilient development plan between now and 2030. Industrialised countries can help India meet and enhance its commitments by providing strong public and private sector finance and technology.

Related media:

MSSI's Don Henry with Sharan Burrow (on the right), General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and Dame Margaret Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum discuss the MSSI India briefing paper at the Paris climate negotiations.

Read the full paper


Ben Parr

Don Henry