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Environmental externalities from rapid growth, such as air and water pollution, arise from a joint failure of government and industry to create an economy where the most profitable action is also best socially. The India Initiative uses rigorous field studies, conducted in association with Indian regulators and industry partners, to examine how public-private partnerships can enable smart policy design and raise efficiency and compliance with environmental standards. Members of this initiative conduct field trials of innovative environmental policies with the goal of providing rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of these policies.
Recently completed work identifies improvements to third party environmental audit mechanisms, and the Governance Innovations for Sustainable Development Initiative, known as Phase II, examined how policy innovations in environmental regulation can allow for smart design of public policy that best supports growth and poverty reduction in low-income settings.
In Phase III of the Sustainability Science Program, we are moving forward with a targeted focus on India. The India Initiative continues some of the work on transparency as a tool for sustainability begun under the Governance Initiative. This work includes a study on whether the delivery of household energy-use report cards can cut down on energy wastage in middle-class suburban Delhi homes. Further, we are examining how a market-based emissions trading system (ETS), developed in partnership with India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests and regulatory bodies, can lower abatement costs and air pollutant emissions.