SFC Perspectives on Adaptation and Resilience, Climate Policy, Energy Transitions, and Environmental Governance and Policy


SFC Perspectives are intended to stimulate discussion by providing an overview of key issues and avenues for action to inform India’s sustainable development trajectory.

Read our Perspectives on:

1. Adaptation and Resilience: Building systems that allow India to adapt to climate impacts (by Aditya Valiathan Pillai and Tamanna Dalal)
2. Perspectives on Climate Policy: Embedding a development-centric, climate-ready approach to policymaking (by Aman Srivastava, Easwaran J Narassimhan and Navroz K Dubash)
3. Enabling the Energy Transition: Technology, politics & institutions in India’s energy system (by Ashwini K Swain, Sarada Prasanna Das, Suravee Nayak, Catherine Ayallore and Navroz K Dubash)
4. Perspectives on Environmental Governance and Policy: Systemic transformations to limit the health burden of air pollution (by Bhargav Krishna, Shibani Ghosh, Arunesh Karkun and Annanya Mahajan)

Perspectives on Adaptation and Resilience: Building systems that allow India to adapt to climate impacts


Climate projections and the lived reality of weather events drive calls for urgent and concerted attention to climate adaptation. But what does this mean in practice? Indeed, seen through a conservative lens, one could quite convincingly argue that India and several other climate vulnerable countries have a long and storied history of reducing disaster mortalities in some areas. They should – in theory – be able to build sufficient reactive capacity to deal with climate impacts. Both India and Bangladesh have, for example, used policy and awareness building tools to drastically reduce annual deaths due to cyclones. This perspective paper, however, argues that the scale and complexity of the climate challenge merits serious consideration of systemic change, and a re-examination of what is needed for economy and society to thrive in an era of frequent, and often ravaging, climate impacts.

This effort is particularly relevant to India’s present developmental moment. Three decades of sustained growth have established an economy characterised by expanded trade, infrastructural advances, and both greater wealth and inequality. This emergence coincides uneasily with alarming manifestations of a changing climate. India’s deep vulnerability to climate change is likely to worsen
as impacts become more frequent and intense in its teeming cities, along a 6100 km-long coastline, and across a mountain range that supplies water to a third of the world’s population. How does a modern economy simultaneously protect the gains of hardwon growth while climate-proofing the future? And, as the Indian state evolves, how should it shape itself to be appropriately responsive to these new threats?

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Climate Governance and Federalism in India


The chapter puts forward a synthetic account of the forces shaping climate governance in India’s federal architecture, building on descriptions of environmental federalism (Arora and Srivastava 2019; Chakrabarti and Srivastava 2015; Huang and Gupta 2014); state actions in climate policy (Dubash and Jogesh 2014; Jorgensen et al. 2015; Kumar 2018); and several recent policy moves by both the Centre and states. It describes India’s federal architecture and environmental governance processes before showing how the federal system is adapting to the climate challenge. The chapter also reflects on the inherent vulnerabilities of this form of climate governance.

The volume (Climate Governance and Federalism: A Forum of Federations Comparative Policy Analysis Cambridge University Press) brings together leading experts to explore whether federal or decentralised systems help or hinder efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It reviews the opportunities and challenges federalism offers for the development and implementation of climate mitigation and adaptation policies and identifies the conditions that influence the outcomes of climate governance. Including in-depth case studies of 14 different jurisdictions, this is an essential resource for academics, policymakers and practitioners interested in climate governance, and the best practices for enhancing climate action.

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National climate institutions complement targets and policies


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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