Research over the years in the area of climate change in India has gradually been adopted by the school and university systems and offered through various mediums including through curriculum, outreach mediums and demonstration methods, leading to better awareness and mitigation solutions at local levels, given enormity of the country. Such avenues of educating children and engagement with youth about climate change issues have changed the way Indian children and youth have been involved in debates, lively discussions and trying to find out mitigation strategies to ameliorate the severity of the climate change in their immediate community and neighborhood.
This has also had a tremendous reach due to the sheer spread of school and university system in India where more than 300 million children go to about 3 million schools and about 40 million students go to attend universities which are about 9000 with more than 50,000 affiliated colleges. India’s school and university system is second only to China, and has been playing an essential role in spreading knowledge; awareness and lab to land experiments which they get an opportunity to effectively involve in and engage with. Both the school and university systems are fairly well equipped and funded both privately and publicly and have been playing a satisfactory role in helping generate awareness and outreach for necessary action on the ground.
Indian schools and universities have been doubling down their efforts while gearing up to undertake advanced applied research at their own levels with various schemes announced by the local, regional and national governments for effective engagement through a number of initiatives including debates, quizzes, essay completion and educational plays with incentives and cash prizes for winners. Higher educational institutions however have started with support from the government centers specialized in climate change for the master’s and doctoral degree programs.
Many of these universities have full collaboration and partnerships with their counterparts from around the world for teaching, training, research and a large sum of educational budget is also being spent on research and development in frontier areas of green technologies and patents. Given India’s push toward the climate education and focused approach through schools and universities, there is a heightened awareness and education among students and youth, reflective of India’s seriousness to tackle the climate change issue through mitigation research and development activities. It is also noteworthy that many Indian scientists are engaged in applied research in climate mitigation areas and the country also had honor of being awarded Nobel Prize for peach to one of its leading scientist and chair of IPPC, late Dr. R. K Pachauri along with former US vice president Al Gore in 2007.
India also has several leading Institutes and Universities specializing in climate change research and also is a home to scores of the specialized domestic and international think tanks. Some of the leading international think tanks either have their full-scale operations or have their presence through collaboration and partnerships. Some of the leading climate think tanks present in India include Climate Group, Climate Parliament, World Resources Institute, We Mean Business, Environmental Defense Fund, Ember Climate and Climate Scorecard covering a range of climate issues including research.
Among the leading domestic climate change research and think tank organizations include The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI and formerly a Tata Group funded research think tank), www.teriin.org while Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), www.cseindia.org is run by professional scientists and is privately funded. These two organizations, among many others, have led research, publications and engagement both at national and international levels with TERI winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and also acted as a chair for IPCC (2002 to 2015). Both TERI and CSE cover a full range of research services and advocacy portfolios ranging from their involvement in preparing text and educational material for schools and colleges to engaging with national government and international agencies including bilateral and multilateral organizations in setting climate agenda from policy perspectives.
Centre for Science and Environment recently released its flagship report – State of India’s Environment Report, 2020 (https://csestore.cse.org.in/books/state-of-india-s-environment/state-of-india-s-environment-2020.html)- explaining in detail about what are the issues, challenges and solutions for India to consider to be able to combat the crisis of the climate change. TERI in its latest publication – Bending the Curve: 2025 Forecasts for Electricity Demand by Sector and the State in the Light of the Covid-19 Epidemic (https://www.teriin.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/Bending-the-Curve_Report.pdf) lays out the electricity demand scenario both by the state and also by sector in aftermath of the global pandemic. Both the reports are much sought after by all key stakeholders including the national government, private sector, think tanks and academic institutions for their reference and further research and have been widely covered both by the national and international media during their recent online launch due to the Covid-19 situation.
Climate change policy making is complex and requires not only sectoral changes, but also behavioral shifts. In addition, the level of political participation differs greatly based on multiple factors, including the level of education and communication. It may however be noted that the importance of developing local expertise in the field and working towards fixing institutional problems with clear focus and objectives.
In case of India, it is important to look at economic, political, local, regional, global, and environmental factors to successfully implement knowledge-based system to institutionalize the memory of community actions and potential replication of their models.
Activity rating: *** Right Direction
Ever since 2015 when 195 nations entered into the Paris Agreement that set a goal to limit their carbon footprints and restrict global temperature rise to 2 degree Celsius, India has also been working toward meeting its commitments under this agreement as it faces numerous development challenges that necessitate integrating climate concerns into its development policies.
Climate change in India is viewed as an issue of serious urgency. There has also been a realization of India’s vulnerability to climate change, leading to an increased effort in tackling the crisis. Besides the tangible cost of climate change, India has also developed an increased sense of responsibility towards climate change due to rising internal and external pressures to act. It is in context of these challenges India needs more collaborative research and mitigation strategies both for education and also for action and both TERI and CSE have essential role to play.
Ms. Sunita Narain
Centre for Science and Environment
Dr. Ajay Mathur
The Energy and Resources Institute
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard India Country Manager Pooran Chandra Pandey