This Year's Carnot Prize Honors Courage Amidst Complexity

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In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

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In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

 

Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
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In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
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In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
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In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

[safe_summary] => ) ) [#formatter] => text_default [0] => Array ( [#markup] =>

In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

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In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U.S. is a ton that might have been emitted by India instead, and perhaps with a greater claim to fairness.

The U.S. is arguably the most advanced energy economy in the world and yet 18% of our primary energy in 2017 came from coal. The emissions from that coal could be used by India to end the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

This year's prize, to be announced soon, will recognize courage amidst the complexity in moving our planet toward a more just and sustainable energy future. 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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Mark Alan Hughes is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also the founding faculty director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in residence at Penn’s Fox Leadership Program. Hughes joined the standing faculty of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1986 at the age of 25 and joined the Penn faculty in 1999. He has published in the leading journals of economic geography, urban economics, political science, policy analysis, and won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning.

He was chief policy adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects in a variety of areas including the Bridges to Work program in transportation, the Transitional Work Corporation in job training and placement, the Campaign for Working Families in EITC participation, and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in regional economic development. This work has been funded by H.U.D., H.H.S., D.O.E., Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Casey, WmPenn, and others.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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India shows us what any just energy transition must provide—power to the poor.

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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
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Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.

On November 8, the air quality in New Delhi India hit toxic rock bottom. The concentration of airborne particulate matter—an opaque brew including petrol and diesel exhaust, fumes from biomass burning, and windblown ash from crop fires to the city’s west—reached the point where the very act of breathing was as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The experience, and its immediate impact on the lives of New Delhi’s population, is documented in a blog post by the Kleinman Center’s Oscar Serpell, who recently returned from the city.

Urban Migration Drives Energy Demand

New Delhi’s extreme air pollution highlights the larger challenge that India faces in balancing environmental quality with the urgent need to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from poverty. The country is in the midst of urbanization of breathtaking scale and speed. Some 200 million rural Indians will move to cities by 2030. By some estimates, India’s already sprawling built environment will triple in size to accommodate the new arrivals, who will demand more energy for transportation, appliances, and air conditioning.

Growth will further challenge local air quality, and increase the carbon emissions that are already contributing to record droughts that have made parts of India’s south “nearly uninhabitable.”

Yet, in the face of this dire environmental outlook, Radhika Khosla, a New Delhi native and recent visiting scholar to the Kleinman Center, sees the rare opportunity to substantially limit the future growth of India’s carbon footprint. Khosla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a University of Chicago-trained geophysicist, is working to develop policies that balance India’s growing energy demand and its environmental impact.

“India has the highest risk of lock-in for any country right now,” Khosla says, referring to the fact that most decisions on India’s future urban form have yet to be made. The development choices India makes today will shape energy demand far into the future.

“I examine this in terms of the energy system and demand in 2030,” Khosla says. “We’re dealing with an emerging economy with lots of uncertainty, and what this uncertainty brings is an opportunity to make the energy future potentially manageable.  The residential sector is growing very quickly, and a large part of the energy demand emanates from there.”

“There are interventions to be made at the time of building construction,” she says. Policies governing building design and appliance efficiency can be set. Neighborhoods can be arranged to ease access to public transportation and minimize the need for cars.

India’s Outsized Carbon Challenge

Managing demand will be crucial given the reality of India’s reliance on coal to generate electricity, which is bound to continue for the foreseeable future. Per its Paris Climate Accord commitment, India aims to develop 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022. If India reaches this goal, it will have displaced just 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the same order of magnitude as South Africa’s entire pledged 2030 emissions—attesting to the enormity of the climate challenge the country faces.

Yet Khosla argues that efforts to paint India as a climate bogeyman are ill-directed.

“The changes going on in India need to be juxtaposed with the fact that this is a really poor country. India’s GDP per capita is much closer to that of Bangladesh, but in terms of total carbon emissions it ranks with Germany, the U.S., and China,” she says.  She notes that India’s per-capita carbon emissions will be far below those of the West, even in 2030.

 “That’s the dilemma—is India a power or an emerging economy? Given what’s at stake, it’s important for the world.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Battling Climate Change

Khosla is attracted to complex problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. “To solve the problems of energy and climate change, an understanding of qualitative and quantitative issues is essential,” she says.

She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Oxford. Her next move took her to the University of Chicago to earn a doctorate in geophysical sciences, where she had the opportunity to engage her interest in bridging science and policy. In the years following graduation Khosla worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, to understand the policy implications of earth sciences. “I knew the science, but not how decisions get made and implemented.”

Her next professional move was to New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “I found my sweet spot there—academic research with a deep policy focus,” she says. “The independence of research is very valuable, which is why I like working in an academic setting.”

Resource Constraints Limit Climate Action

Khosla is careful to frame India’s efforts to fight local air pollution and climate change against the country’s formidable constraints, ranging from limited finances to invest in clean energy technology to a “system of environmental laws and enforcement of laws that are much weaker than ideal.”

Another challenge is the fact that climate change is not the first priority for much of India’s urban population. “Electricity, crime, health care, and local air pollution are the things that are mobilizing local politics.”

Nevertheless, climate concerns are rising, as is the awareness that other development priorities are closely related. “Officials go to local meetings on climate change, and the focus turns very quickly to its linkages to more local environmental, development and health issues.”

Khosla talks in depth about India’s dual challenges of development and climate in her interview on the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast.

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Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. 

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

 

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

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Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Radhika Khosla presents on India’s growing emissions and electricity consumption as the nation grapples with a public health crisis. 

Early this week, residents of Delhi awoke to a public health crisis. The already polluted air in and around the capital city of India had reached extreme levels. PM 2.5, a classification of extremely fine particulate air pollutants that cause lasting damage to both the heart and lungs, reached “severe” levels of 450 micrograms per cubic meter. That may not sound like much, but in the United States, the federal air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms/m^3, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board considers anything above 100 micrograms/m^3 to be “unhealthy.” Arvind Kumar, a doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi said that living in Delhi at the moment is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

Since Tuesday, the smog has continued to steadily worsen, following a recent annual trend of smothering winter-time pollution. The current crisis has prompted the Delhi government to declare a state of emergency, close all schools in the region, ban nonessential commercial trucks, temporarily cease all construction, and institute a scheme whereby only odd or even license plates will be allowed on the road at a time. Much of the city is in a week long standstill, in the hopes that this bout of toxic air will pass.    

Although the seasonal variation in India’s urban pollution is partly meteorological in nature, the underlying cause is the country’s rapid and accelerating economic development, and the resulting increase in combustion emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, India’s GDP more than doubled. Between 2005 and 2010, it doubled again. The Gross National Income per capita has skyrocketed from $440 in 2000 to $1,700 today. With this newly acquired, albeit modest, prosperity comes increased energy use and rapidly accumulating carbon and pollutant emissions.

India has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable electricity generation. By 2020, its aims to more than double its existing 70 GW of solar and wind capacity. However, challenges with forecasting, grid reliability, transmission, and surging demand suggest that the country is going to have to rely on a number of additional strategies in order to meet its climate goals, and to reverse its growing air pollution crisis.

Next week, on Wednesday, November 15, Radika Kohsla, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research in India will join us at the Kleinman Center for a policy luncheon exploring India’s forthcoming energy transition. Specifically, her lecture will focus on the growing role that residential energy is expected to play in the nation’s climate and air pollution mitigation efforts.

During Wednesday’s lunch event, Radika Kohsla will present new empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing patterns of growing residential energy demand in the effort to establish sustainable development practices. Her research explores the impacts that behavior change, efficient lighting, and appliances can have on demand-side mitigation at the residential level. Kohsla argues that understanding how people’s personal relationship with energy is changing, as a result of economic development and rising income levels, will play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable path forward for the Republic of India. 

India is home to 1.2 billion people, representing roughly 17% of the global population. The subcontinent’s success, or failure, in meeting its emissions goals during a period of unprecedented economic growth will have a profound impact of the global effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and to move towards an efficient and low-carbon future.

If global energy trends and the balance of emissions and economic development are of interest to you, we encourage you to attend next week’s lecture by Radika Kohsla. 

Please RSVP to the event here. Lunch will be provided!
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July 30, 2018
Source: Flickr user DFID

In 2000, 43% of India’s population had electricity. Today, electricity now reaches 82% of the population. If this pace is maintained, India will achieve universal access in the early 2020s and achieve one of the largest successes in the history of electrification, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.  

India has recently advanced the successful electrification of nearly 18,000 remote villages in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country, and half a billion people in India have gained access to electricity.

Today, India’s leadership faces a difficult balancing act. It must keep villages energized with reliable power while delivering energy in the most sustainable way. For India, with its existing mix of resources, the resulting approach is to use both renewables and coal (delivered to power plants by railway).

This year’s Carnot Prize provides a “teaching moment” at Penn and in the U.S. to explore the ideas behind a just and sustainable energy transition and the common but differentiated responsibilities among nations to mitigate effects of energy systems on climate change.

A sustainable transition must avoid the worst effects of climate change by ensuring that global emissions peak quickly and fall steeply in coming decades, staying within a global “carbon budget” of emissions we can release into the atmosphere.

Like China and the United States, India has achieved much of its electrification with coal. During its energy expansion, India has more than tripled its coal fleet to 215GW, and now ranks fourth in the world for CO2 emissions (after China, the U.S., and the EU). But with 48GW of planned coal retirements (due in part to new air pollution rules), and 17GW of new coal capacity stalled or in limbo, it appears that coal expansion in India has peaked. The tide has shifted to phasing out coal and phasing in renewables.

A sustainable energy transition must also be a just transition. In other words, we must balance the haves and the have-nots. A just transition provides power to the world’s energy poor, in order to improve education, sanitation, and health care. By helping countries power up, we strengthen governments, spur economic growth, and open the doors to trade.

Climate change is a global problem that requires effort by every nation. But how to allocate that effort among nations is a political and moral choice.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Climate Change, if every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country currently emits, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 5% per year (about 60 years of emissions) and India by 3.5% per year (about 85 years of emissions).

But the U.S. has been emitting CO2 into the atmosphere since it helped launch the Industrial Revolution in 1750. If every nation shared the remaining carbon budget in proportion to how much each country has emitted since 1750, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 16% per year (about 25 years of emissions) and India by 2.5% per year (about 120 years of emissions).

This example shows the connections among the future emissions by every nation on earth. Every ton emitted by the U