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October 5, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


What is Climate Change?

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, but since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil, and gas), which produces heat-trapping gases.

What is Climate Polycrisis?

The climate ‘polycrisis’ — a term made popular by Adam Tooze — refers to the interconnected and compounding crises related to climate change that affects sectors across the spectrum.

It encompasses the physical impacts of climate change (rising temperatures, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events) and the social, economic, and political challenges that arise from these impacts.

In India, one can see the interconnections between seemingly different sectors such as energy, infrastructure, health, migration and food production that are being impacted by climate change.

Recognising the complexity and interconnectedness of the climate polycrisis, it is crucial in developing a holistic approach that takes into account the diverse perspectives and priorities of different stakeholders, while ensuring resilience, equity, and justice.

The cross sectoral effects

While it seems easier to pursue our response to climate change in a sectoral fashion, the very nature of a polycrisis means that tweaking one corner of the climate challenge leads to unexpected consequences elsewhere.

Instead, we need a deep transformation — one that lays the foundation of a new economy that is sensitive to the planet.


The first step is measurement. We need to measure carbon emissions from that of individual citizens to that of the nation as a whole, including all that is in the flow.

The second step is Accounting. Once we have a measurement system in place, we can build an accounting system that helps us balance our carbon books.

Carbon Balance Sheet

Existing carbon accounting methodologies such as those championed by Karthik Ramanna at Oxford are already capable of tracking carbon balance sheets at the corporate level.

A national carbon accounting (NCA) system is both an evolutionary and a revolutionary generalisation of these ideas.

Just imagine a world in which we file carbon tax returns alongside our income tax returns.

Carbon accounting

Public finance is the primary mechanism of development. Governments apportion funds for different developmental activities, each competing with the others for the exchequer’s purse.

The revenue to fund the public exchequer comes from taxes, and that, in turn, requires that individual entities — businesses, households — keep an account of inflows and outflows of money.

In contrast, the stocks and flows of carbon are not tracked at a granular level anywhere in the world.

As a result, there is no possibility for a progressive carbon tax that penalises large buyers of petrol more than the average consumer.

A progressive carbon tax requires us to keep track of the inflows and outflows of carbon, i.e., national carbon accounting.

Carbon accounting is a way for companies to keep track of the carbon they are producing, removing, storing and offsetting.

It helps companies keep carbon books alongside their financial books.

Road to Carbon GDP

Once we have an NCA, we will be able to set targets, make predictions about future emission reductions and track our progress against those goals.

Instead of the single goal of increasing economic GDP in money terms, as we already do, there will be a parallel goal of a carbon GDP which countries will try to reduce.

As a polysolution

An NCA will not only help India meet its commitment to becoming net zero by 2070 but also help it and other countries (if adopted globally) create new livelihoods and new forms of organising its economy and society.

Everyone understands GDP growth and, more recently, alternative measures such as Gross National Happiness.

Key Recommendations: For Climate Change Strategies

  1. India needs to see climate change as a risk to development.
  2. States should come forward to assume leadership in their efforts to attain the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC).
  3. Chhattisgarh as a role model has started many cross-sectoral initiatives like Narva (rivers and streams), Ghurva (compost pit), Garva (livestock), and Bari (backyard farming).
  4. Health Departments target of Net Zero. Under such initiatives, priority areas like forest, livelihood, climate resilient agriculture, decarbonization of transport and industry are covered.
  5. Lack of political will inhibits making climate change a priority for the political class.
  6. Institutional bottlenecks act as barriers to successful implementation of climate policies. These must be strengthened with nodal officers working as a focal point for coordination among ministries and departments.
  7. Till April 2021, $29.02 billion has been allocated to promote high (coal) production as well as consumption. The government and public support for coal must be ended and electricity distribution systems must be improved
  8. The natural carbon-rich ecosystems such as forests and wetlands should be conserved
  9. Initiatives like the Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF) established in 2006 be encouraged for long-lasting sustainable environmental development through R&D.
  10. India needs to expand its take on solar energy. Alternatives to solar ground mount projects like floating solar and offshore wind projects should be encouraged.

Other steps which India needs to take include:

  1. developing sectoral investment and private sector engagement plans in support of NDC,
  2. strengthening national sector capacities to access and coordinate climate finance,
  3. increasing engagement of industry and financial decision-makers in the NDC process (both partnerships and project development),
  4. create political leadership with the private sector and showcase mutual advantages to elevate ambition.


October 5, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: