The years since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed in 1992 have been marked by rising concern about the climate problem, given that emissions have continued to rise and atmospheric concentrations have continued to build up to a level where the likelihood of avoiding dangerous climate change – a key objective of the UNFCCC – is diminishing. In fact, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels recently crossed the 400 ppm mark for the first time in human history.
At the same time, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2012 (UNEP 2012) has highlighted the large gap between the national mitigation pledges in the Copenhagen Accord and the level of reductions that are required for a ‘likely’ chance of staying below the 2°C target; according to other analysts, these combined mitigation pledges – ‘[are] consistent with a global temperature rise of greater than 2°C – and possibly as much as 5°C’ (Kartha and Erickson 2011).
This paper takes an actor-centred perspective – focusing on players not just within the government but also private sector and civil society – to better understand the influence of such actors in shaping climate change action within India. Through this analysis, the aim is to explore the underlying domestic political economy as well as the international linkages shaping climate action. The study focuses on the wind and solar sectors for two reasons: firstly, renewable energy is seen as a potentially important part of the energy mix in a carbon-constrained world; and second, there has been a remarkable activity in these sectors in recent years, thereby providing rich terrain to mine for insights.
After the introduction, Section 2 of the paper provides a quick overview of the Indian context within which the sectoral stories (and their actors) are embedded. Sections 3 and 4 analyse the policies and agents, as well as the primary narratives within the wind and solar sectors (respectively) with the aim of providing an answer to the primary question of who shapes climate change mitigation action in India (and its corollaries). Section 5 concludes, distilling the analysis into some broad findings on the political economy of climate change mitigation action in India.
Chaudhary, A.; Narain, A.; Krishna, C.; Sagar, A. Who Shapes Climate Action in India? Insights from the Wind and Solar Energy Sectors. IDS, Brighton, UK (2014) 58 pp. [IDS Evidence Report 56]