Climate Change Mitigation & Development

Climate change is a complex challenge for developing countries in South Asia. Not only could the impacts of climate change be significant, but it would also be felt in a context of multiple stresses, such as poverty, resource depletion, environmental degradation and rapid urbanization. Thus, adaptation strategies will need to be formulated in the context of multiple policy goals.

Moreover, the question of mitigation or limiting carbon footprints is an even more challenging one to address in the south Asian context. The current levels of per capita emissions and the historical responsibility of this region towards climate change low. And also, there is a pressing need for poverty alleviation, which calls for an increase in energy consumption. Additionally, many so-called climate friendly policies, such as the increased use of hydropower, may have significant regional environmental impacts. The challenge therefore is identify development strategies that meet the multiple goals of poverty reduction, regional environmental sustainability and low carbon emissions.

While research on climate change impact and adaptation is ongoing and will continue in other programmes at ATREE, the newly established Climate Change programme will focus primarily on mitigation, i.e., on finding strategies that enable development without compromising the environment. It will explore development pathways that are more equitable and environment-friendly and sustainable, and which can affect the reduction or containment of greenhouse gas would be a co-benefit.

The work ATREE intends to do in the sphere of climate change mitigation include finding opportunities for decoupling economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions and harnessing co-benefits for local environment, health and energy security. We also aim to elucidate the equity implications of low carbon strategies, identify institutional and governance barriers to the effective implementation of equitable, sustainable and low carbon development and induce a behavioural change in favour of low carbon choices.

Climate Change, Urbanization and the Housing Sector in Karnataka

This study aims to investigate the factors determining household behaviour regarding the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency in a small city. The study focuses on the implementation of two schemes: rooftop solar photo voltaic (RTPV) with net metering and the switch to LED lighting under the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP). A household survey is being carried out in Ramanagara, a small city in Karnataka with a population of about 95,000.

Preliminary findings reveal significant penetration of solar thermal technology, but very low penetration of RTPV due to regulatory uncertainty, high capital costs, and information barriers among households and government agencies. A concerted campaign to promote LED bulbs is under way but the consequent energy savings are relatively small as they replace compact fluorescent lights. The study aims to better understand household perceptions and biases and how households would respond to different framings of incentives.

This study is supported by the Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute (EMPRI), Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment, Government of Karnataka.
PI: Ulka Kelkar, Fellow, Climate Change
Research staff: Ms C Rathnamma

Community-Based Wet-waste Composting in Bangalore, India

Urban solid waste/garbage is a worldwide problem, posing both local public health hazards and contributing to global GHG emissions. As an alternative to conventional centralized, municipality-managed solid waste disposal, many citizen-managed initiatives are also emerging. Through a combination of legislative pressure and citizen initiatives, Bangalore city has emerged as one of the pioneers in community-based garbage composting. Today, there are more than 450 residential complexes are segregating waste at source.

This project aims to study community-based garbage segregation and composting initiatives in Bangalore city in order to identify socio-technical elements that are crucial to the performance of such systems, including their methods of treating wet waste. It also proposes to carry out a desk review of experiences elsewhere, to come up with recommendations for replication and scaling in different contexts. The Bangalore experience can provide valuable insights for other parts of the world that face garbage disposal challenges. Cities of Chengdu, China and Vancouver, Canada have expressed interest in community-based composting systems.

Principal investigators:
Megha Shenoy
Xuehua Zhang , Sichuan University, China
Research associates:
Shwetamala Kashyap
K. Poornima Wasdani

Lele, S. 2017. Why do we care? Unpacking the ‘environmental’ in our environmental science. In Hiremath, A. J., Rai, N. and Siddhartha, A. (Eds), Transcending boundaries: Reflecting on twenty years of action and research at ATREE. pp. 172-177. Bangalore: ATREE.

Kelkar, U., S. Bhar and M. Badami. (2016). Sustainable Consumption and Production in South Asian Cities, background paper prepared for Urbanization and the Environment: Eighth Biennial Conference of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE), at Bangalore, on 4-6 January 2016.

Kelkar, U., P. Balachandra and A.Gurtoo. (2016). Will India’s “Smart” Cities be Resilient to Climate Change, paper presented at Urbanization and the Environment: Eighth Biennial Conference of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE), at Bangalore, on 4-6 January 2016.

Press coverage

  1. “Can India keep its promises?” by Priyanka Pulla, Science 350(6264): 1024-1027. 27 November 2015
  2. “Will India’s ‘Smart Cities’ Be Climate-Resilient?” by T V Padma in The Wire, 5 February 2016