India's Energy Transition - Climate Goals and Persistent Development Injustices
Scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change indicates dire consequences if the world continues the use of fossil fuels that powered past industrialization. As the world’s third largest primary consumer of energy, climate scientists and policymakers eagerly follow India’s energy trajectory.
Simultaneously, India is one of the most vulnerable nations to climatic change, with an increased number of hot days and more frequent and intense precipitation. Most exposed to these climatic extremes are India’s poorest residents, particularly the 30% of the population living below the poverty line. India faces the challenging predicament of developing sustainably, while mitigating for climate change.
These contradictions are particularly apparent as India strives to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” (Goal 7, Sustainable Development Goals). The 300 million Indians without electricity and the 500 million Indians lacking clean cooking fuel are particularly in need, as energy access increases standard of living, health, and education levels. India proposes ambitious renewable energy goals, but the nation remains dependent on carbon intensive coal for 60% of the national electricity supply.
In this seminar, Heather Bedi draws on research in coal and solar energy sites to chart the historical and contemporary uneven development associated with India’s energy transition. Some renewable energy efforts aimed at mitigating climate change replicate historical marginalization practices, deepen development disparities, and further climate change precarity. Bedi explores radical alternatives to energy and development planning without oppression based on inequality. This opportunity to promote the geographies of the just energy transition could allow India to fulfill energy, development, and climate goals holistically.
Heather Bedi is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Dickinson College
This event is free and open to all.
The seminar is hosted in collaboration with the Oslo SDG Initiative.