Bada Bagh, also known as Big Garden, near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan Getty Images

India is at a crossroads in its development path. With its fast-growing economy, rapid urbanization, and employment growth, energy demands are skyrocketing. Efforts to increase energy access and provide electricity to rural communities while alleviating poverty are also gaining momentum. Clean energy and energy-efficiency solutions are more critical than ever before.

At the same time, the impacts of climate change are bearing down, escalating the need for greater climate-resilience efforts to protect the health of vulnerable communities. Decisions and investments made in the next few years will shape whether Indian consumers, companies, and government authorities can turn these challenges into a business advantage as well as a national opportunity for clean energy to power cities and villages while reducing climate change impacts.

Since 2009, NRDC’s India program has advanced clean energy and public-health solutions while fighting climate change. Partnering with leading experts as well as national, state, and local governments, we work to advance cutting-edge scientific and policy research, analysis, and innovations on clean energy, climate resilience, and climate policy. Our clean energy work focuses on improving energy efficiency in buildings and appliances to transform markets. It also supports robust solar and wind markets through opportunities for clean energy finance, employment, and greater energy access.

To combat climate change, we help protect vulnerable communities by strengthening early-warning systems and disaster risk management against extreme heat and other global-warming impacts in key cities. Our climate policy work focuses on enhancing global cooperation on climate and clean energy. In a short time, we have developed productive relationships with India’s most respected academic institutions and government agencies, making NRDC a trusted partner and a major player in the country’s clean energy development and sustainable economic growth.

Some of our accomplishments:

  • In the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, NRDC worked with local partners and state and city governments to develop and enact comprehensive laws on commercial building energy-efficiency codes. We are working in the IT hub of Hyderabad on an innovative implementation framework to ensure strong code compliance. We also work with real estate developers to drive market transformation toward energy efficiency, providing a scalable growth model for rapidly growing states and cities in India.
  • In western India, we worked with city officials and public-health institutions to develop and implement the nation’s first-ever heat-preparedness plan and early-warning system for heat waves: the Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan. Backed by groundbreaking scientific research, the plan helps protect those who are most vulnerable—slum communities and outdoor workers—to the health effects of extreme heat. This strategy has become a model for other cities and states to produce their own plans for safeguarding communities from the health impacts of climate change and to integrate climate events into the dialogue for reducing national disaster risks.
  • Our analysis of India’s burgeoning clean energy markets has shown that the country’s ambitious 100 gigawatts solar target has the potential to create up to one million jobs by 2022. Together with our partners, we are further supporting India’s solar and wind markets through extensive analysis on job creation, skill development, and innovative financing opportunities. To support even greater growth, we are working toward advancing clean energy finance solutions to achieve India’s 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022.
  • Partnering with a local women’s group, we are developing an innovative finance model to increase off-grid energy access to clean energy and improve the lives of the Gujarat desert's saltpan farmers, who provide 70 percent of India’s salt supply. Our analysis of the economic, environmental, and social benefits of clean energy technologies has demonstrated that powering water pumps, which traditionally use diesel, with solar energy can save production costs, increase efficiency and harvest outputs, and improve farmers’ livelihoods.
  • Our work advancing productive climate policy includes researching the business case for phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, the superpotent greenhouse gases commonly used in air conditioners. We engage with the business sector, government officials, and civil society leaders on advancing clean energy and climate policy, including at international forums like the Montreal Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

As the country's economy improves—and temperatures rise—tens of millions of people are installing air conditioners. That spells trouble for climate change.

NRDC in Action

Fighting deadly heat waves is futile, but preparing for them might wind up saving thousands of lives across the country.