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Strategies for green industrial and innovation policy–an analysis of policy alignment, misalignment, and realignment around dominant designs in the EV sector

Summary

Governments in industrialized as well as emerging economies are racing to implement policies to accelerate clean energy innovation and capture the economic benefits of decarbonization. This paper explores which combination of technology-push and demand-pull policies best situates a country to lead in clean energy innovation, as new or dominant designs emerge and replace older technologies. A new analytical framework for green industrial policy is introduced regarding the alignment, misalignment, and deliberate misalignment of policies. This framework is applied to battery electric vehicle drivetrain technology to examine the use of policy alignment and misalignment by countries with big automakers as they pursue strategic green industrial policy. We find that countries that achieved early and sustained (not inconsistent) policy alignment gained a first-mover advantage compared with countries that deliberately or accidentally misaligned their policies. We also find that first-mover advantage can be lost due to deliberate misalignment of policies caused by an inability of governments to effectively incentivize their firms to develop and deploy cleaner and more efficient technologies. In situations where governments adopt misaligned or conflicting policies, incumbent industries tend to pursue their prior comparative advantage and maximize return from investments in prior technologies. We also find that deliberate misalignment of policies can be an effective catching-up strategy.

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Intergenerational Labour and Just Transition in Coalfields

Introduction

India’s coal dependency is more complex than that of countries in the Global North. Amidst deliberations on coal phase-down and just transition planning and strategies post COP-26, the intricacies of this dependence make any phase-down a delicate and intense socio-economic and political process. Apart from the country’s reliance on coal for energy security, this dependency is also spread across economy, especially amongst coal communities. More importantly, accounting for the impact on livelihoods and jobs of coal communities are at the core of coal dependency discussions in the country. There are two approaches to examine coal labour in India. The first is to map direct, indirect and induced employment and the other is to study formal and informal labour in the coal ecosystems. However, these studies largely focus on the magnitude of labour dependency.

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What Is Polluting Delhi’s Air? A Review from 1990 to 2022

Introduction

Delhi’s annual average PM2.5 concentration in 2021–22 was 100 μg/m3—20 times more than the WHO guideline of 5 μg/m3. This is an improvement compared to the limited information available for the pre-CNG-conversion era (~30%), immediately before and after 2010 CWG (~28%), and the mid-2010s (~20%). These changes are a result of continuous technical and economic interventions interlaced with judicial engagement in various sectors. Still, Delhi is ranked the most polluted capital city in the world. Delhi’s air quality is a major social and political concern in India, often with questions regarding its severity and primary sources, and despite several studies on the topic, there is limited consensus on source contributions. This paper offers insight by reviewing the influence of Delhi’s urban growth since 1990 on pollution levels and sources and the evolution of technical, institutional, and legal measures to control emissions in the National Capital Region of Delhi.

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Solar Rooftop Systems and the Urban Transition: Shall the Twain Ever Meet? Interrogations from Rewari, India

Summary

India is facing two major transitions. In 2040, its energy demand will double while 800 million Indians will live in cities by 2050. Situated at this intersection, this article contributes to the field of urban energy research by looking at Solar Rooftop Systems (SRS) in a district located in the extended periphery of Delhi. Using a multi-pronged qualitative methodology in a corridor made of villages and small towns, we argue that public policies are framed applying a rigid territorial grid opposing urban and rural, ignoring the motivations of both residential and professional users, which are not bounded by the rural/urban binary. This disjunction explains that renewable energy does not lead to a new imagination of urban and energy systems. These two fields remain disconnected while solar energy fuels consumption and the city expansion in its peripheries. Finally, the observed variegated urban energy landscapes (UEL) embody a land and energy intensive form of urban growth.

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Coal extraction, dispossession and the ‘classes of labour’ in coalfields of eastern India

Introduction

Drawing upon long term fieldwork conducted in the coalfields of eastern India, the paper argues for the formation of multiple, fragmented and hierarchical ‘classes of labour’ in the ‘new public sector’ coal mines of India. Employing an intersectional lens, it shows that the organisation of ‘classes of labour’ is greatly dependent upon the differentiated negotiating powers for compensatory employments linked to pre-existing land and other social relations shaping up as ‘politics of incorporation’ in mining jobs. It demonstrates the exacerbation of socio-economic inequalities between Dalits, women and dominant caste and class communities in the dispossession process of open-cast coal mining.

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National climate institutions complement targets and policies

Introduction

National climate institutions are a missing element in climate mitigation discussions. Yet institutions translate ambition to current action, guide policy development and implementation, and mediate political interests that can obstruct mitigation efforts. The landscape of relevant institutions is usefully categorized around ‘purpose-built’ institutions, ‘layering’ of responsibilities on existing institutions, and unintentional effects of ‘latent’ institutions. Institutions are relevant for solving three climate governance challenges: coordination across policy domains and interests, mediating conflict and building consensus, and strategy development. However, countries do not have a free hand in designing climate institutions; institutions are shaped by national context into four distinct varieties of climate governance. We suggest how countries can sequence the formation of climate institutions given the constraints of national politics and existing national political institutions.

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Climate change research and the search for solutions: rethinking interdisciplinarity

Introduction

Growing political pressure to find solutions to climate change is leading to increasing calls for multiple disciplines, in particular those that are not traditionally part of climate change research, to contribute new knowledge systems that can offer deeper and broader insights to address the problem. Recognition of the complexity of climate change compels researchers to draw on interdisciplinary knowledge that marries natural sciences with social sciences and humanities. Yet most interdisciplinary approaches fail to adequately merge the framings of the disparate disciplines, resulting in reductionist messages that are largely devoid of context, and hence provide incomplete and misleading analysis for decision-making. For different knowledge systems to work better together toward climate solutions, we need to reframe the way questions are asked and research pursued, in order to inform action without slipping into reductionism. We suggest that interdisciplinarity needs to be rethought. This will require accepting a plurality of narratives, embracing multiple disciplinary perspectives, and shifting expectations of public messaging, and above all looking to integrate the appropriate disciplines that can help understand human systems in order to better mediate action.

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Varieties of climate governance: the emergence and functioning of climate institutions

Introduction

How do states respond to the challenge of climate governance? The Paris Agreement has led to heightened interest in domestic climate policies, but attention to underlying national climate institutional architectures has lagged behind. This literature gap deserves to be addressed, because climate change brings considerable governance challenges. Drawing on a collection of country studies, this paper outlines a framework to explain the path-dependent emergence of climate institutions, based on the interplay of national political institutions,international drivers, and bureaucratic structures. The resultant institutional forms suggest four varieties of climate governance, based on the extent of political polarisation and the narrative around climate politics in the country. The functioning of existing climate institutions indicates they have so far played a modest role in addressing climate governance challenges, but also illustrates their importance in structuring climate politics and outcomes, suggesting a substantial agenda for future research.

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Special Issue on ‘Varieties of Climate Governance’ in Environmental Politics (all articles)

Introduction

Discussions in climate governance have focused on national targets and climate policies. But a critical ingredient is relatively absent: climate institutions. Yet, formal institutions are essential if countries are to devise realistic low-carbon strategies, manage the complex politics of transitions, and coordinate across diverse ministries and actors. Drawing on cases spanning eight countries – four developed and four
developing – with an analytical overview, we examine the conditions under which climate institutions emerge, the forms they take, and the governance functions they serve.

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Utilitarian benchmarks for emissions and pledges promote equity, climate and development

Introduction

Tools are needed to benchmark carbon emissions and pledges against criteria of equity and fairness. However, standard economic approaches, which use a transparent optimization framework, ignore equity. Models that do include equity benchmarks exist, but often use opaque methodologies. Here we propose a utilitarian benchmark computed in a transparent optimization framework, which could usefully inform the equity benchmark debate. Implementing the utilitarian benchmark, which we see as ethically minimal and conceptually parsimonious, in two leading climate–economy models allows for calculation of the optimal allocation of future emissions. We compare this optimum with historical emissions and initial nationally determined contributions. Compared with cost minimization, utilitarian optimization features better outcomes for human development, equity and the climate. Peak temperature is lower under utilitarianism because it reduces the human development cost of global mitigation. Utilitarianism therefore is a promising inclusion to a set of benchmarks for future explorations of climate equity.

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