The Centre undertakes work on the following areas of research areas
Research on climate change mitigation strategies keeping in mind the twin goals of environmental protection and human development is an important area of research for the group. Considerable work on operationalisation of the concept of equity and sustainable development in climate and energy policy in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation has been carried out. Work on topics such as emissions modeling and carbon budgets has been undertaken and and has opened many avenues of taking this research forward in multiple directions. Developing the carbon budget perspective has been an inportant aspect of the work of the Centre. The carbon budgets approach put forth by the group is novel in that it recognizes the exigency of addressing the issue of climate change, while at the same time understanding the imperatives of development especially for countries such as India. An emissions model built by the group as a mathematical representation of the problem of burden sharing between nations has been published as a discussion paper for a conference organised jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Forestes, Government of India and Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 2010 (Kanitkar et al 2010 ). The work, begun in 2010, was further developed in 2011 in two publications. The work undertaken on the carbon budgets model has also now been published in a peer reviewed journal as well as in the form of a book chapter in a Handbook on climate change. A further extention of this work has been undertaken as a project for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in 2015, on meeting equity in climate change as the world approaches another critical juncture in climate governance at the 21st Conference of Parties to be held in Paris.
The practical challenges encountered in the implementation of the dual objectives of development and sustainability need to be addressed. An attempt to address these challenges has led to our research in the area of energy. The energy pathways available to a country have a profound effect on development within the country. Understanding the energy-environment-development relationship becomes even more important in the context of climate change. In this context, building models of sustainable macro-economic energy options in the era of climate change is an important area of research for the group. Though a few major modeling efforts have been undertaken to study the costs of mitigation at the level of the national economy in the context of India, most of these have adhered to standard models of either energy economics or integrated assessment models that take both macroeconomic features and emissions into account. However both these types of models fall short of dealing with the particular features of a large developing country like India, that have on the one hand considerable development deficits and on the other have still to expand their manufacturing and industrial sector substantially. At the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies, we are developing models that would enable us to determine the key linkages between development, energy and emissions. This work has now been presented various climate meetings and workshops and has also been published in peer reviewed journals and conferences
The various challenges thrown open by the discourse and practice of sustainability whether in objectively operationalising the concept or in explicating the conceptual and practical linkages of the concept with other social goals like equity and justice, need to be addressed. A major lacuna in sustainable development studies is the lack of attention to equity issues, whereby environmental concerns tend to trump all other concerns including development. A significant contribution to this debate at the international level was undertaken with the preparation of a report by T. Jayaraman and Sharadchhandra Lele (Atree Foundation, Bangalore) on equity and sustainable development A report titled “Equity in the context of sustainable development: Note for UN-GSP” is the outcome of this work. This constitutes one of our ongoing and future areas of work.
Vulnerability and adaptation studies, is also an area of active research. This includes longitudinal studies of vulnerability, impacts and recovery due to climate and weather shocks. The differential impact of environmental factors on different economic and social categories of rural society, particularly of those related to agricultural production, is another focus area of study. The work on vulnerability and adaptation is also be linked to study of the regional impacts of climate change. In the context of climate change and climate variability, a numbers of countries are increasingly focusing their attention on adaptation (vis-à-vis mitigation) and have started to formulate and implement adaptation activities within their geographical confines for which certain sums of money are being set aside from their respective government budgets. In order to enable such action and plan for the same, policy makers it is necessary to understand the key aspects of vulnerability to climate variability and eventually to climate change in the context of India, the issues involved in building resilience to climate change, the key aspects of climate change adaptation and its linkages with development. The Centre has been studying all of these issues. A detailed, systematic review of climate change and agriculture was written on invitation and published in the online journal, Review of Agrarian Studies. The review, titled “Climate Change and Agriculture: A Review Article with special reference to India,” and was published in the journal 'Review of Agrarian Studies'. A review of the report of Working Group-I of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the context of the impacts of climate change on Indian agriculture was also published in the journal Review of Agrarian Studies.
Study of the challenges in ensuring access to energy in rural areas as well as the adoption of new technology in the context of ensuring sustained well-being of a majority of the population are questions that the Centre has been studying for some time. Energy access or the use of non-commercial sources of energy is particularly important in relation to determining future requirements of developing countries and is an important area of work that the centre will be focusing on. The Centre is working on a identifying and elaborating on the core drivers of energy deprivation among the majority of the population in rural India. We have already initiated a study of secondary data on rural energy supply as well as conducted sample surveys in four villages in the state of Maharashtra.
Study of environmental governance both at the national and international levels would be an area of focus for the centre. The explorations in this area would include answering questions about the efficacy and adequacy of the present political processes and structures of authority to deal with questions of livelihood enhancement, equity and justice, sustainability, cultural identity and democratic decision-making in the management and distribution of natural resources.