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Harvard Project Conducts Research Workshop on Subnational Climate-Change Policy in India

  • Robert C. Stowe
| Jan. 21, 2022

The Harvard Project conducted an online research and policy workshop on December 8 – 9, 2021, “Subnational Climate Change Policy in India.” Co-sponsors were the Centre for Policy Research, in New Delhi, and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University. The Harvard Global Institute provided support for the workshop and a larger project of which it is part, examining subnational climate-change policy in India and China.

Johannes Urpelainen co-organized the workshop and co-authored, with Jai Shekhar, a background paper: “Center-State Relations in India: A Political Economy Approach to Climate and Energy Policy.” The paper is available here. Urpelainen is Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment at Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is also Founding Director of the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP), based at SAIS.

Links to the agenda and list of participants as well as all workshop presentations are at the bottom of this page.

Climate change is a global commons problem and, as such, requires cooperation at the highest jurisdictional level — that is, international cooperation among national governments — if it is to be adequately addressed. However, national governments acting independently, as well as subnational governments, can also significantly advance efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. States, provinces, and municipalities around the world have undertaken initiatives — sometimes working together across national boundaries — to address climate change. This includes jurisdictions in the largest-emitting countries — India, China, and the United States — as well as in the European Union.

This workshop examined subnational climate-change policy in India, including: 1) How Indian states formulate and implement policy to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and adapt to climate change — and related energy policy; 2) Interactions between state and Union governments with regard to climate-change and energy policy: how states and New Delhi cooperate — and challenges to such cooperation.

This workshop is part of larger initiative of the Harvard Project examining — and, to the extent feasible, comparing — subnational climate-change policy in China and India. Indeed, the second session on the December 8 compared federal and quasi-federal systems in India with those in China, Canada, and the United States.

Twenty-nine experts participated, based in India, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Norway. On the first day of the workshop, Aditya Valiathan Pillai, Associate Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) — a co-sponsor of the workshop and a leading policy research institute in India and internationally — framed the two days of discussion with a presentation titled “Climate Federalism in India: Context, Patterns, Fixes.” Mr. Pillai’s presentation was based in part on a CPR report, co-authored with Navroz Dubash (Professor and Coordinator of CPR’s Initiative on Climate, Energy, and Environment), who also participated in the workshop, “Unlocking Climate Action in Indian Federalism,” July 2021.

After a response by Johannes Urpelainen and discussion, three speakers made comparative presentations. Robert Stavins, Director of the Harvard Project, examined subnational climate-change policy in the United States. Mark Jaccard, a professor of resource economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, discussed provincial-federal climate-policy relations in Canada. Gørild Heggelund, Research Professor at the Fridtjof Nansens Institute, in Norway, then examined institutional relations between provincial and central government in China.

On the second day, Kaveri Iychettira, on the faculty of the School of Public Policy, IIT-Delhi, examined in detail the role of states in the management of the power sector — and implications for greenhouse-gas emissions. Puneet Chitkara, Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins SAIS, responded.

Jayant Sinha then discussed the role of the states in India’s achieving net-zero emissions — a subject he has been studying closely and speaking about often. Mr. Sinha is a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), representing Hazaribag, Jharkhand.

Finally, Aditya Pillai moderated a panel of three experts on climate-change policy in state governments: Suresh Attri, Principal Scientific Officer, Department of Science and Technology, Government of Himachal Pradesh; Jayanthi Murali, Special Secretary for Environment and Climate Change, Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Forests, Government of Tamil Nadu; and Shwetal Shah, Technical Advisor, Climate Change Department, Government of Gujarat. The discussion provided important insights into both opportunities for and constraints on state-government action.

As noted, the workshop is part of a larger project examining subnational climate-change policy in India and China. A parallel workshop was held (in person) in July 2019, “Subnational Climate Change Policy in China.” That meeting was hosted and co-organized by Tsinghua University’s Institute of Energy, Environment, and Economy. More information about this workshop can be downloaded here. A volume of briefs based on the Beijing workshop can be downloaded here. Finally, Michael Davidson wrote an extensive background paper for the workshop, which was released somewhat later — in both Chinese and English — as a Harvard-Project discussion paper. The paper, “Creating Subnational Climate Institutions in China,” may be downloaded here. Davidson is on the faculty of the School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego.

Following are links to materials from the Harvard Project’s December 2021 workshop, “Subnational Climate Change Policy in India”:

For more information on this publication: Please contact Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
For Academic Citation: Stowe, Robert. “Harvard Project Conducts Research Workshop on Subnational Climate-Change Policy in India.” News, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, January 21, 2022.

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