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Climate Change Climate Change

Climate action in Indian cities: an emerging new research area

India is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, following China, the United States, and the European Union. Although India still has a low per capita carbon level, due to its large population and growing economy, its share of global greenhouse gas emissions is rising. India is, thus, a particularly important country to examine in relation to climate change. This article investigates one particular aspect of India’s climate policy: the role its cities play within its multi-tiered climate governance system. India is still a predominantly agricultural society with two-thirds of its population (about 850 million people) living in rural areas. Urbanization is, however, progressing; estimates are that India will add over 400 million urban dwellers between 2014 and 2050 bringing the urban population to over 800 million (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division 2014). This article aims to shed light on the challenges, capabilities and limitations of India’s urban areas to deal with mitigating climate change. It complements the other articles in this special issue which focus on subnational state and provincial level climate policy. It takes as its starting point the academic multi-level climate governance debate and also looks at the role the co-benefit concept plays at the urban level. The article highlights key actors, drivers, and institutions of city climate action and considers how local climate policy and programs are enabled and constrained by India’s federal political system. Finally, the role of international city partnerships in supporting climate activities is considered. To explore the conditions shaping climate action in India’s cities this article builds on a literature review and discussions held at an Indian-German expert meeting which took place in Bangalore in April 2015.