India’s Turn in Climate Policy: Assessing the Interplay of Domestic and International Policy Change
India has long been regarded as a deal-breaker in international climate negotiations; it was at the summit in Copenhagen that India first abandoned its old strategic line and made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions voluntarily. This shift was accompanied by a proliferation of domestic initiatives to save energy, to develop regenerative energies, etc. Traditional IR approaches remain insufficient to explain this policy shift – which is the aim of this paper – insofar as they fail to adequately take into account the fact that climate policies have to confront two audiences: a domestic and an international one, each presenting different tactical necessities for official reaction. On the international front, we argue that globally, India intended to be perceived as a responsible actor, one deserving of a greater say in global governance matters. On the domestic level, shrinking national energy reserves and mounting import dependence made the co-benefit of energy saving in reducing greenhouse gas emissions evident. The shift was made easier because important business associations aligned with a more eco-friendly development perspective and because the reduction commitments made by the Indian government on an international stage did not demand very stringent domestic emission reductions.
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