Rethinking Technology for a 1.5 °C World

  • Ulka KelkarEmail author
  • Apurba Mitra


The Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calls on all countries to take action to limit global warming to 2 °C above pre-Industrial Revolution levels, and ideally to 1.5 °C. The new special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of the dangers of every additional degree of warming and identifies technological pathways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a way that we return to a 1.5 °C world by the end of this century. The voluntary commitments currently offered by countries, however, are expected to result in global warming of 2.7 °C to 3.7 °C. This paper examines the role of technology and supporting policies in the transition to a decarbonized or climate-neutral world by mid-century. With the case of India, we discuss the types of technologies and policies that are required to be implemented during 2020–2050 to stay on track for 1.5 °C warming. We highlight the transformative low carbon technologies needed in three major sectors—transport, cooling, and data centres—and discuss the social and economic policies that are needed to support the low carbon transition.


  1. Berylls Strategy Advisors. (2018). The dirt on clean electric cars.
  2. CEA (2018a). Growth of electricity sector in India from 1947 to 2018. Central Electricity Authority, Ministry of Power, Government of India.
  3. CEA (2018b). Executive summary on power sector: Dec-18. Central Electricity Authority, Ministry of Power, Government of India.
  4. CEEW and NRDC. (2017). Greening India’s workforce: Gearing up for expansion of solar and wind power in India. Issue Paper. Natural Resources Defense Council and Council on Energy, Environment and Water.
  5. Energy Innovation and WRI India. (2018). India Energy Policy Simulator.
  6. Gillingham, K., & Stock, J. H. (2018). “The cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions”. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 32 (4): 53–72.
  7. IEA. (2017). Digitalization and energy. Paris: International Energy Agency.
  8. ILO. (2018). World employment and social outlook 2018: Greening with jobs. Geneva: International Labour Organization.
  9. IPCC. (2018). Summary for policymakers. In V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P. R. Shukla, A. Pirani, Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M. I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, Maycock, M. Tignor & T. Waterfield (Eds.), Global Warming of 1.5 °C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty(p. 32). Geneva, Switzerland: World Meteorological Organization.
  10. IRENA. (2018). Renewable energy and jobs: Annual Review 2018. Abu Dhabi: International Renewable Energy Agency.
  11. Jones, N. (2018). How to stop data centres from gobbling up the world’s electricity. Nature 561: 163–166. Scholar
  12. Luo, T., Krishnan, D., Sen, S. (2018). Parched power: Water demands, risks, and opportunities for India’s power sector.
  13. MoEFCC. (2018). India: Second Biennial Update Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.
  14. Mangan, E., Mitra, A., & Rissman, J. (2018). A tool for designing policies to achieve India’s climate targets: Summary of methods and data used in the India energy policy simulator. Technical Note. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.
  15. NCE. (2018). Unlocking the inclusive growth story of the 21st century: accelerating climate action in urgent times. New Climate Economy, The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
  16. NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute. (2017). India leaps ahead: Transformative mobility solutions for all.
  17. Thambi, S., Bhatacharya, A., & Fricko, O. (2018). India’s energy and emissions outlook: Results from India energy model. Working Paper. Energy, Climate Change and Overseas Engagement Division, NITI Aayog, Government of India.’s-Energy-and-Emissions-Outlook_0.pdf.
  18. Vieweg, M., Bongardt, D., Hochfeld, C., Jung, A., Scherer, E., Adib, R., Guerra, F. (2018). Towards decarbonising transport – A 2018 Stocktake on sectoral ambition in the G20. Report on behalf of Agora Verkehrswende and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
  19. WRI. (2017). Can renewable energy jobs help reduce poverty in India? World Resources Institute.
  20. WRI & UNDP. (2018). Long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies: Approaches and methodologies for their design. Input Document for the G20 Climate Sustainability Working Group. A paper prepared by World Resources Institute and the United Nations Development Programme for the G20 Climate Sustainability Working Group under the Argentine G20 Presidency.

Copyright information

© Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Resources Institute (WRI) IndiaBengaluruIndia
  2. 2.World Resources Institute (WRI) IndiaDelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations