State-led experimentation or centrally-motivated replication? A study of state action plans on climate change in India

Summary

In 2009, the Government of India asked all Indian states and Union Territories to prepare State Action Plans on Climate Change, making it one of the largest efforts at sub-national climate planning globally. Through an examination of state climate plans in five Indian states, the paper explores the implications of sub-national climate measures by examining two questions: First, how do state action plans on climate change link with India’s national and international climate efforts in the context of multi-level governance of climate change? Second, do these plans serve as laboratories of experimentation in addressing climate change? Through an empirically driven inductive analysis, the paper argues that because state climate plans, at least in the initial stages, followed a centrally driven, and sometimes ambiguous agenda, their scope and room to experiment was circumscribed. While they did initiate a process and a conversation, the scope and impact of the plans was limited because they tended to follow conventional bureaucratic planning processes and were limited by a central mandate. The plan process did create some space for local innovation, particularly by enterprising bureaucrats, but this was limited by both restricted space and time for innovation. As a result, the plans made only initial steps toward bringing climate-resilient sustainability to the forefront of state development planning. There is however scope for improvement as states and stakeholders begin examining the plans with a view to implement recommendations, finance projects and even consider fresh iterations.

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Towards Methodologies for Multiple Objective-Based Energy and Climate Policy

Introduction

Planning for India’s energy future requires addressing multiple and simultaneous economic, social and environmental challenges. While there has been conceptual progress towards harnessing their synergies, there are limited methodologies available for operationalising a multiple objective framework for development and climate policy. This paper proposes a “multi-criteria decision analysis” approach to this problem, using illustrative examples from the cooking and buildings sectors. An MCDA approach enables policy processes that are analytically rigorous, participative and transparent, which are required to address India’s complex energy and climate challenges.

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Neither Brake Nor Accelerator: Assessing India’s Climate Contribution

Summary

What does India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution imply for its approach to climate negotiations? And what implications does it have for domestic development choices? This article examines India’s INDC through each lens, to understand the implied logic with regard to India’s complex climate-development choices, and with regard to its strategic international choices. It finds that the INDC reflects, as yet, an inadequate consideration of the climate and development linkages that should inform India’s actions. The contribution reflects a strategic choice to be “middle of the road,” which neither disrupts the fragile diplomatic consensus nor creates pressure for more urgent global action.

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Integrating Global Climate Change Mitigation Goals with Other Sustainability Objectives: A Synthesis

Introduction

Achieving a truly sustainable energy transition requires progress across multiple dimensions beyond climate change mitigation goals. This article reviews and synthesizes results from disparate strands of literature on the coeffects of mitigation to inform climate policy choices at different governance levels. The literature documents many potential cobenefits of mitigation for nonclimate objectives, such as human health and energy security, but little is known about their overall welfare implications. Integrated model studies highlight that climate policies as part of well-designed policy packages reduce the overall cost of achieving multiple sustainability objectives. The incommensurability and uncertainties around the quantification of coeffects become, however, increasingly pervasive the more the perspective shifts from sectoral and local to economy wide and global, the more objectives are analyzed, and the more the results are expressed in economic rather than nonmonetary terms. Different strings of evidence highlight the role and importance of energy demand reductions for realizing synergies across multiple sustainability objectives.

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Multilateral Diplomacy on Climate Change

This article in ‘The Oxford Handbook of Foreign Policy in India’ reviews India’s foreign policy on climate change, arguing that while it is marked by tactical virtuosity, it increasingly exhibits strategic vacuity. The chapter traces the evolution of India’s role in international climate negotiations, noting particularly India’s key role in highlighting equity and enshrining the concept of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ as a cornerstone of the negotiation process. The chapter then examines the turbulent phase from 2007 onwards, when India, along with other large developing country allies, experimented with new articulations of climate policy. This discussion explores the emergent drivers of Indian climate policy, including international pressures, shifting domestic political context, the emergence of ‘co-benefits’ as a framing concept, and the role of key personalities. The chapter concludes by suggesting that an exclusive emphasis on an equitable climate deal should transition to an approach that provides equal attention to equity and effectiveness in international climate outcomes.

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Building Productive Links between the UNFCCC and the Broader Global Climate Governance Landscape

Introduction

Global Environmental Politics examines the relationships between global political forces and environmental change, with particular attention given to the implications of local-global interactions for environmental management as well as the implications of environmental change and environmental governance for world politics. Each issue is divided into full-length research articles and shorter forum articles focusing on issues such as the role of states, multilateral institutions and agreements, trade, international finance, corporations, science and technology, and grassroots movements. Contributions to the journal come from across the disciplines, including political science, international relations, sociology, history, human geography, public policy, science and technology studies, environmental ethics, law, economics, and environmental science.

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Who determines transformational change in development and climate finance?

Summary

The language of transformational change is increasingly applied to climate policy, and particularly in climate finance. Transformational change in this context is used with respect to low-carbon development futures, with the emphasis on mitigation and GHG metrics. But, for many developing countries, climate policy is embedded in a larger context of sustainable development objectives, defined through a national process. Viewed thus, there is a potential tension between mitigation-focused transformation and nationally driven sustainable development. We explore this tension in the context of operationalizing the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which has to deal with the fundamental tension between country ownership and transformational change. In relation to climate finance, acceptance of diverse interpretations of transformation are essential conditions for avoiding risk of transformational change becoming a conditionality on development. We further draw lessons from climate governance and the development aid literature. The article examines how in the case of both the Clean Development Mechanism and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, there has been limited success in achieving both development objectives and ‘nationally appropriate’ mitigation. The development aid literature points to process-based approaches as a possible alternative, but there are limitations to this approach.

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