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Data-Driven Climate Action: Evidence-Based Policy for India’s Regions

“Things get done only if the data we gather can inform and inspire those in a position to make [a] difference.” – Mike Schmoker

Data is making it possible to identify solutions, enhancing problem-solving efficiency significantly. Hidden within the data are answers to some of our most pressing challenges, like climate change. The October 2018 IPCC special report stresses the need to considerably lower climate risks by limiting temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degree of warming by 2100. Everyone – countries, states and regions, cities, and the private sector – needs to strengthen action, without delay. This is where greater efficiencies and data-driven strategy in policy-making become pertinent. In India, data-driven climate action also promises greater prosperity and economic stability — more jobs, increased energy access, access to sustainable transportation and health improvements — critical to development overall.

In India, while there is a fair amount of activity data available within departments of central government ministries, there is significant scope to create more robust emissions data registries at the subnational - regional and municipal - levels. However, subnational governments in India currently do not have the framework, technical capacity and financial resources required to measure, report and use greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data for evidence-based policy making.

State and City-Level GHG Emissions

The first step toward creating more robust GHG emission inventories is to evaluate existing resources that can be used to support the inventory process. This includes identifying relevant institutions that can provide activity data and emission factors, and reviewing policies, laws, regulations or institutional agreements relating to the GHG inventory.

WRI India works to create credible performance tracking systems at the national, policy and industrial levels to measure progress toward meeting domestic climate, energy and development goals. WRI’s greenhouse gas protocol standards help businesses, cities and the country measure and report greenhouse gas emissions. In the absence of state-level emissions inventory, states can also refer to estimates available here to initiate a dialogue. Furthermore, there is valuable data available at the national level on fuel consumption and sales, vehicle registrations, landfill locations and capacities, among other metrics. This data can be used to make simplified estimations at the state and municipal levels.

Next, creating strong, transparent and uniform reporting frameworks at the state and city level can help offer a more comprehensive insight into the impacts of climate action driven by regional and local governments. Using these frameworks, states can measure progress on mitigation actions across key sectors like energy, buildings & lighting, transport, waste, land-use, , industry, , agriculture and water. Further, states can also evaluate progress on measures and strategies to build resilience against the dangerous impacts of climate change by reporting on buildings & infrastructure, community engagement, disaster risk management, environment & biodiversity, planning & policy, and public health.

Each year, The Climate Group, as Secretariat of the Under2 Coalition and in partnership with CDP, call upon subnational governments to disclose their climate action and targets as part of their Annual Disclosure. The annual reporting supports governments to better understand the risks and opportunities of climate change while providing a transparent, global picture of the impact, progress and climate action driven by state and regional governments. Four Indian states, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, and West Bengal, participated in the 2018 edition signalling their commitment towards a more transparent and collaborative approach to climate action.

Collaborative Action to Meet Climate & Development Goals

State and cities play a critical role in driving action to deliver sustainable and resilient economies that achieve the goals set out by national governments. Working collaboratively across national and subnational governments reduces the duplication of efforts and drives greater synergies in data collection strategies between national, state and city governments.

Further, because of the cross-sectoral nature of climate impacts, each level of government needs intra-government collaboration as well. There are opportunities to leverage national and state government schemes to meet the joint objectives of reducing emissions while providing quality of life benefits to communities. Using consistent data sets and frameworks across all levels of government, therefore helps strategic planning for future growth.

One successful example is the city of Rajkot in Gujarat. Rajkot has an active program under the “Affordable Housing for All” scheme. Going beyond the mandate of the scheme, the Rajkot Municipal Corporation and the Swiss Development Agency commissioned a research project to present a wider policy outlook encompassing, low-carbon, resource efficient affordable housing. The research resulted in integrating simple passive ventilation design standards during design and construction of buildings funded under the scheme. Such measures help optimise thermal comfort level within homes during the operational phase, resulting in reduced energy demand.

Another example is California in the United States. The state of California’s mandatory reporting from facilities and entities and their Integrated Emissions Visualization Tool collates data for various air pollutants and GHGs collected from several different emissions reporting programs, each designed to meet specific goals.

The 2015 Paris Agreement represents the collective ambition of countries worldwide. It is essential that governments seek to continuously track progress against targets and adjust climate policies, incentives and actions in accordance with their climate and economic goals. By tracking and measuring impact, subnational governments can support climate action overall, and ensure that climate policy is backed by reliable, publicly available data to deliver a clean and resilient future for the world.

This blog is authored by Chirag Gajjar, Lead – Mitigation, Climate, WRI India; Komal Khatri – Consultant, Outreach and Engagement, Climate, WRI India; and Nehmat Kaur – Senior Manager, South Asia Govt Relations, The Climate Group

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