The India Center at UCF Hosts a Discussion on Sustainability in Indian States

By Kassidy Menk


A discussion of sustainability efforts by Indian states was led Nov. 18, 2021, by Neelima Jain of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. UCF’s Naveen Eluru, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering, moderated the event by facilitating a discussion and prompting audience questions.

Jain explained that India is a uniquely important country to the world in combating climate change; it is the single largest country to not undergo industrial transformation. Coal power plants are the country’s main electricity sector. Without access to natural gas, India imports 98% of its oil. The coal sector accounts for 73% of the national carbon emissions. Furthermore, access to electricity is still not a universal commodity even with ambitious projects underway to tackle this problem. This decentralization contributes to India’s biggest problems of resolving deadlock and social needs. The complexity of the electricity center and the affordability of national access also remains an issue in achieving sustainability goals.

The energy sector is also inherently linked to water and sanitation. With unreliable access to water, an exponential increase of energy is needed for each season of crops. Therefore, many roadblocks stand in the way of India’s ambitious goals.

Jain discussed the cumulated emissions made by India compared to the rest of the world. While India is currently among one of the largest emitters, historically speaking it is not even in the top four. The U.S. has been responsible for 25% of historical emissions, while India stands around 3%. Jain reiterated that while there is a common responsibility, there are differences. Making changes is especially hard due to India’s governmental structure. India’s complex law-making system puts a lot of power on Indian states in pushing governmental goals into action on the ground. A bottom-up approach then, noted Jain, is how India will achieve its national goals.

Climate change is not at India’s political forefront because it competes with energy security as the nation’s main priority. Policies surrounding it are usually supply and demand driven. India is trying to attract as much investment to create jobs as it can, but the country has given little thought on how to influence consumer behavior to adapt to climate change. For now, the focus stays on urbanization. India’s growth in sustainability and tackling climate change depends on creating affordable and widespread access to electricity for the whole country.

Watch the full discussion here or by viewing it below.

YouTube video

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