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Incomplete Story of the Political Economy of the Power Sector

Mapping Power: The Political Economy of Electricity in India’s States edited by Navroz K Dubash, Sunila S Kale and Ranjit Bharvirkar, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018; pp 400, ₹ 1,195.

Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020

The proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aims to reduce subsidies and push for privatisation, especially in the distribution segment of the power sector. Undertaking structural changes in a core sector at a time of crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects defies logic. The proposed amendments are not only anti-people, but they also fail to address the long-term crises in the sector and will only accelerate its deterioration. The central government must hold off on passing any hasty legislation on the subject and adopt a more scientific and less ideological approach to deal with the travails of the power sector.

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement has set targets for limiting temperature rise due to global warming which will be virtually impossible (1.5°C) or very difficult (well below 2°C) to realise. It ignores the fact that these targets require a strict limit on global cumulative emissions in the future. Allowing all countries, especially developed ones, to do what they feel able to, rather than what is necessary, sets the world on a dangerous and inequitable path to the future.

Deconstructing the Climate Blame Game

An accusation that is being made post-Copenhagen is that the major developing countries, China in particular, blocked ambitious emission reduction targets that were offered by the advanced economies. But a dissection of the offers shows that a backloading of cuts and a refusal to specify near-term reductions would retain inequalities in emissions and lead to a further grab by the developed countries of the "carbon space" available to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees celsius.

How Much 'Carbon Space' Do We Have? Physical Constraints on India's Climate Policy and Its Implications

It is necessary to determine the role of various nations, including India, China and the other major developing countries in keeping the total atmospheric stock of greenhouse gases below 450 ppm (carbon dioxide equivalent) which, in turn, would provide a 50% probability of keeping the global temperature increase below 2°c. An analysis of future emissions of co2 in Annex I countries, large developing nations and other nations is done using a gams-based emission model. This analysis underlines sharply the historical responsibility of the developed nations for global warming and their duty to cut emissions drastically to mitigate climate change. Also large developing nations like China and India also need to contribute strongly to mitigation. It is argued that this necessity makes evident that carbon offsets will act as "double burden" on developing nations, as also a major disincentive to innovation in critical migration technologies in the industrialised world. The analysis implies that India needs an alternative climate policy that recognises proactive action for climate change mitigation while ensuring that the developed nations do not pass on their burden to the global South, which would otherwise seriously
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