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Busby Co-Authors a Report on the U.S.’ Role in India’s Energy Policies

Jun 15, 2021 |

Joshua Busby, Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar, recently co-authored a Brookings Center report titled “The case for US cooperation with India on a just transition away from coal.” In it, Busby and his co-authors highlight the inescapable role India will play in achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, as India has the third largest coal generating capacity. Given India’s “pent-up demand for energy” and current reliance on coal for electricity, they note, it will be difficult for India to move away from coal without a persuasive and economically sustainable alternative. They argue that the US can help support India’s transition away from coal by helping secure the funding for India to “(1) support coal-dependent communities, (2) repurpose former coal plant and mine sites, and (3) decommission polluting coal-fired power plants.” The authors delineate how and why India is a central actor in global climate policy, as the country’s vast, unmet energy need could damage both local air quality and climate mitigation efforts, if the need is met by coal-fired power plants. While India’s per capita emissions are currently low, the authors note that the country could take a path similar to China wherein high energy demand creates a rapid rise in emissions. Simultaneously, the authors highlight that this may be viewed as an opportunity: If India were to meet this demand with clean energy, they could reduce air pollution and generate jobs and profit in the new clean energy sector. The authors also identify six key barriers which stand in the way of this transition. They then note the many incentives which India has to move away from coal, including the opportunity to improve air quality in India. They also provide a deep-dive into each of the three financial means of facilitating this transition, highlighting the various US entities, or US-supported entities, that could help secure the necessary funds. They conclude by noting that the decision to transition away from coal ultimately belongs to India, but the international community can engage “different financial instruments and proactive policies” to help facilitate this shift in a just and mutually beneficial way. Read the full report here.

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