India: First Biennial Update Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


Since India has ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC; 1994), it is required to report to the UNFCCC progress on actions taken to address climate change. India presented its Initial National Communication (INC) to the UNFCCC on June 22, 2004, and its Second National Communication (SNC) on May 4, 2012. It is also required to submit Biennial Update Reports (BURs), and the First Biennial Update Report was submitted on January 22, 2016.

The First BUR provides detailed information on India’s climate, land use, forests, economy, energy, demographics, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change mitigation. It also discusses the domestic measurement, reporting and verification of mitigation efforts and the country’s financial and technological needs for this purpose.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is responsible for India’s National Communications and BURs.  The First BUR was prepared by the National Steering Committee, chaired by Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, MoEFCC. Its members were from various ministries and departments, and its exclusive sub-committees had government officials, academics and members of society.


  1. In the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, India committed to a voluntary reduction of 20-25 per cent in ‘energy intensity’ by 2020 from 2005 levels. (Energy intensity is defined as the amount of energy required to produce one unit of the Gross Domestic Product [GDP].)

  2. According to the India State of Forest Report, the forest and tree cover increased from 14 per cent in 1950-51 to 24.01 per cent in 2011-12. India has an ambitious plan to bring 33 per cent of its geographical area under forest cover.

  3. The First BUR presents the country’s 2010 greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory for a number of sectors. The energy sector accounts for 71 per cent of GHG emissions, agriculture for 18 per cent, industrial processes and products for 8 per cent, and waste for 3 per cent. Carbon dioxide forms 73.68 per cent of GHG emissions, followed by methane (19.3 per cent) and nitrous oxide (5.3 per cent).

  4. Forestland, croplands, grasslands, non-vegetated areas (such as snowy areas, rocky outcrops and surface water bodies), and human settlements act as ‘sinks’ and help to reduce GHG emissions. In 2010, forestland was responsible for the maximum carbon dioxide absorption (200,036 gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalent), followed by croplands (110,757 Gg CO2 eq).

  5. GHG emissions increased from 1,301.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2000 to 1,884.3 million tonnes in 2010. During this period, India’s GDP approximately doubled and its population increased by around 18 per cent.

  6. In 2010, India’s per capita GHG emissions were 1.56 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, less than a third of global levels.

  7. There has been a reduction in the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions of around 12 per cent between 2005 and 2010, from 35.14 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per Rs. 1,000 in 2005 to 31.01 kg in 2010.

  8. Among the eight missions under the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC; 2008) is the National Solar Mission, which aims to increase India’s installed solar energy capacity from 3.74 gigawatts in 2015 to 100 gigawatts by 2022.

  9. The National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency aims to increase the efficiency of energy usage through private-public partnerships. It attempts to achieve a total ‘avoid capacity addition’ of 19,598 megawatts by 2017.

  10. Other missions that are part of the NAPCC are the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, National Water Mission, National Mission on Green India, National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture, and the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.

  11. The government has outlined mitigation plans and actions for sectors such as energy, industry, buildings, telecom, transport, agriculture, forestry and waste management. It has also formed the National Inventory Management System to report on GHG emissions. However, international support is needed in the form of finance and technology to sustain such institutions.

  12. The government has spent Rs. 5,97,000 crores (five lakh ninety-seven thousand crores) during 2013-14 on climate change adaptation and developing mechanisms for it. It estimates that it will require US$ 90 billion to create an additional solar energy capacity of 96 gigawatts and US$ 33 billion to create an additional wind energy capacity of 36 gigawatts. It will also need US$ 21 billion in the next seven years to upgrade and redesign the grid infrastructure for renewable energy.

  13. India has well-established monitoring systems to review its energy efficiency, renewable energy, and agriculture and forestry sectors. However, when the report came out, it did not have an integrated system for measuring, verifying and reporting actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Focus and Factoids by Abizar Shaikh.


National Steering Committee for ‘India’s Third National Communication and Other New Information to the UNFCCC’. The Committee was chaired by Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.


Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, New Delhi


22 Jan, 2016