Energy for Growth Hub
Multimedia Jun 21, 2021

Episode 6: Arvind Subramanian: We Have to Fight Carbon Imperialism

The former chief economic advisor to India’s government on how climate policy has become disconnected from energy needs…

Better Metrics and Data

The former chief economic advisor to India’s government on how climate policy has become disconnected from energy needs of poorer countries, the politics of India’s electrical tariffs and why he thinks renewable energy has yet to be proven economically viable there.

Arvind Subramanian is Senior Fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and a Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development. Arvind served as the Chief Economic Advisor to the government of India, 2014-18. He has previously been a professor at Ashoka University, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies. He was previously a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and served as assistant director in the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund.

Show Notes

  1. The IEA’s latest net-zero projections, which Katie discusses in ‘Amped Up’.
  2. Arvind’s bio and Twitter page.
  3. Data on India’s energy consumption by source.
  4. Scientific American article on the health effects of coal in India.
  5. Arvind’s use of “clean coal” refers to the use of carbon capture and storage technology.
  6. This recent Brookings Institution piece suggests that “as many as 10-15 million benefit from coal through ancillary employment and social programs near the mines” in India. Arvind references the large number of people in India whose livelihoods depend on the coal industry.
  7. An article on India’s renewable energy goals and ambitions.
  8. World Bank electricity access data for India.
  9. A Hub memo on the low-hanging fruit in India’s electricity sector.
  10. Solar auctions.





ROSE:  I’m Rose Mutiso in London…


KATIE:  …and I’m Katie Auth in Washington, and this is High Energy Planet, the podcast from the Energy for Growth Hub about new ideas to solve global energy poverty.


ROSE:  On today’s show, what should the energy transition look like in India?  We talk with Arvind Subramanian, economist and senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute and the Center for Global Development.  Arvind also served as a chief economic advisor to the Government of India from 2014 to 2018.


KATIE:  We’ll ask Arvind about his take on the global carbon budget and India’s renewables (agenda).


ROSE:  But first Katie gets amped up about the IEA’s latest net-zero projections.


KATIE:  All that coming up on this episode of High Energy Planet.




ROSE:  All right, it’s time for Amped Up, when we talk about what we can’t stop thinking about right now in the energy and development space.  So Katie, this week you’re obsessing about the International Energy Agency’s new report outlining a global pathway to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.  Can you tell us more?


KATIE:  Yeah.  So a few weeks ago the IEA released this report that lays out a pathway to achieve net-zero energy and industrial process emissions by 2050.  And in the weeks since there’s been all kinds of takes on this.  There’s been a lot of excitement that IEA embraced the net-zero agenda.  There’s been a lot of people feeling daunted by how challenging actually doing this would be.  And then there’s been a lot of people conflating model scenarios with policy prescriptions, which is always problematic.


ROSE:  Indeed it is.  So what does this report say about energy transmissions in emerging markets more specifically?


KATIE:  So I thought it was interesting that IEA actually opens up the scenario with a note on the importance of recognizing that countries are at different stages of economic development, and that it’s going to be critical that we insure a just transition, which, you know, those are both things we can all get behind.  The messy follow-on question that you and I think about a lot is how.


ROSE:  And does the IEA have an answer?


KATIE:  So I thought there were a couple really good things about the way that IEA approached this.  First they assumed universal access to electricity by 2030 – to energy I should say, sorry, by 2030, which surprisingly isn’t always built into these types of models.  And two, it relies on kind of a phased attainment of net-zero.  So they have advanced economies get there by 2045, and then they acknowledge that some developing markets are still going to be producing emissions in 2050.  The challenge is that those emissions are going to have to get offset by CO2 removal elsewhere.


ROSE:  Okay, and so in keeping with a question that we often ask ourselves is, you know, who exactly are these developing markets?  Does the IEA dare to specify this in their report?  Because this can be quite controversial.


KATIE:  So one of the limitations of the IEA’s scenario is that it basically breaks the world down into just two big buckets–advanced economies and then everyone else.  But that second bucket includes everyone from China and India to Liberia and Malawi.  The disparity in scale and constraints in what those countries are facing and their impact on global emissions is just so huge.  I would love to see more of these models pay specific attention to what the transition is going to look like in the world’s poorest economies.


ROSE:  All right, Katie, thanks so much for that breakdown of this exciting news in the energy space.  Just not to put you on the spot, but pretend you’re a movie critic right now and the IEA report is the latest blockbuster.  So out of five stars how excited are you about this?  Would you recommend it for a friend?  Maybe instead of stars let’s say five solar panels.  Out of five solar panels [LAUGHTER]?


KATIE:  I actually had, like, a complicated emotional reaction to the IEA report.  Because on the one hand, like, when you see it all laid out, what the world would have to do to get to net-zero by 2050, it can feel totally daunting.  It means changing personal behavior, economy-wide transportation models.  It’s huge.  But on the flipside as someone who basically lives by keeping everything in my life organized on a to-do list, it’s also weirdly energizing to have, like, a menu.  Like, okay, we’ve got to stop selling non-electric vehicles by 2035.  It’s weirdly reassuring to have it all laid out, so I appreciated that.


ROSE:  So let’s give it a four stars, four solar panels?


KATIE:  Sure.


ROSE:  All right, okay.  So coming to a dinner party, family gathering near you this summer, Katie talks up the new IEA net-zero report.




KATIE:  Arvind, welcome to High Energy Planet.  It’s so great to have you.


ARVIND:  It’s great to be on your podcast.


KATIE:  So over the years you’ve urged what you call “dynamic emerging economies,” that is countries like India, China, Brazil, and Indonesia, to challenge some of the established wisdom on energy and climate.  And we’re curious, what’s the one piece of that [quote, unquote] “established wisdom” that you think is most important to criticize?


ARVIND:  Well, I think there are, you know, many ways of putting it.  But I think the most kind of stark but somewhat controversial way of putting it is to say that, you know, we have to fight carbon imperialism.  You know, the notion that of course climate change is, I mean, existentially important–it’s going to affect the world, it’s going to affect the poor disproportionately–but, you know, you get this policy response of, you know, we have to reduce carbon emissions around the world, which is understandable.  But somehow that gets somewhat disconnected from the fact that the energy needs of poorer countries are so under-fulfilled that we kind of lose sight of that fact when we talk about, you know, a net-zero carbon reduction, etc., etc.  So I think carbon imperialism is just a kind of nice controversial short way of putting it.  It’s just a way of saying there are lots of people out there who have virtually no or very limited access to energy.  Energy is kind of the heart of (material) well-being.  And we cannot afford to neglect that.


KATIE:  And so by a carbon imperialism it sounds like what you’re talking about is the fact that policy responses to climate change are largely being driven by wealthy economies who aren’t taking into consideration the energy needs of a place like India.  Is that basically what you mean by that?


ARVIND:  I don’t want to create a straw man.  I think advanced economies, at least the more, you know, thoughtful and – amongst them it’s not that they don’t recognize there are huge unfulfilled energy needs, but the framing kind of tends to understate the importance and the solutions also kind of (elide) over them in a way that I find somewhat unsatisfactory.  Just to give you one example, even if you said, for example, “Oh yes, poorer countries need to increase their energy consumption”–of course let’s see what happens to carbon–well, the way we would notice that – you know, we get finance so that, you know, they can somehow magically be able to consume more energy without adversely damaging the kind of global carbon budget as it were.  So both the framing and the solutions don’t tend to sufficiently place the energy needs of the poor countries and the poor within the poor countries kind of set the stage.


ROSE:  So Arvind, just I think digging deeper into this question, so definitely the idea of carbon imperialism resonates.  Katie and I grapple with this question almost every day.  A big part of our kind of climate narrative that we’re really pushing is the idea of fairness, right?  And so extremely poor, small-development countries who have very low contribution to climate change and are kind of dealing with the brunt of the impact, and have ambitious growth – justifiably growth and development goals, that this is a different class.  And so we kind of mostly work and think about sub-Saharan countries.  We find this – it’s straightforward, right?  And so now we start to kind of struggle when we get into the what you call “dynamic emerging economies,” so India, Brazil, you know, notably even China.  When it comes to fossil fuels should the international community really be thinking about India and Brazil in the same way that it does Liberia (inaudible) Malawi?  Where’s the line of this one?


ARVIND:  That’s a great question.  See, I think that even within the emerging economies’ dynamic there’s kind of like a big difference.  Just take, for example, India and Brazil, for example, right?  So the difference is that what’s common to all these countries is that they’re large.  So obviously they’re going to have a large carbon footprint by (what) you’re having a lot of people.  China 1.3, India 1.5, and Brazil also hundreds of millions.  But I think India is kind of such a big country that we forget that there are lots of still quite poor people in India, right, whose energy kind of access at this stage, I mean, would not be that different from the a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  So India is one of those strange countries that, A, it’s big, so it’s going to leave a carbon footprint.  But there’s still a lot of, you know, poor people, but, you know, energy access is quite limited.  But then it’s dynamic, so it’s kind of growing very rapidly.  So you have this sense of – that, oh, they’re going to be using up the carbon budget very rapidly.  But then unlike Brazil, which has a lot of kind of naturally-clean energy sources like hydro for Brazil, India’s highly reliant on fossil fuels.  So how do you kind of marry all these different aspects of India in relation to energy is kind of the big question.  And, you know, so that’s why India maybe stands out as a bit of a…  And that’s (inaudible) maybe India and China are a bit similar.  And let’s not forget China is three to four times richer, and generally energy access in China is much better than in India today.  So India combined some of these qualities of, you know, sub-Saharan Africa, some of the qualities of, you know, China, and so that’s what makes it I think a little bit tricky for India.


ROSE:  And so then what is the best way forward?  Because if we just – acknowledging this – the heterogenous nature of India, is it really feasible for the world to say yes India, grow and emit…?


ARVIND:  So the way I think about this is, you know, kind of a few principles I would say for India, right?  One is that India should internalize all the domestic social marginal cost that comes from fossil fuels.  India has its own reason for, you know, not having too much coal, because pollution costs a lot of lives, you know, poor health and so on.  So conceptually the way I think about it is that the pricing of energy of fossil fuels in India should completely reflect the domestic social marginal cost.  I think what’s tricky then is how much of the international externality that India creates should India internalize given that it’s going to be costly in terms of energy consumption, and yet it’s leaving a large carbon footprint.  And I think there are two or three principles here.  One I certainly think that it has to be very, very gradual.  I mean, the fact that India’s poorer, that energy needs are, you know, much more – in India lots of poor people.  Therefore, you know, the burden on India to shoulder the international marginal costs of climate change and so on should be very low to begin with and only gradually rise over time.  I think second I would say is that the international community should I think not expect a country like India to kind of slap on these carbon taxes that are being bandied about in advanced economies (inaudible).  Because, you know, that would just be compromised energy access and it would just be completely unfair in that sense.  So one way forward would be to say that can the world invest more in the technologies for clean energy, including I’ve always been struck by how under-researched and under-invested is clean coal or clean fossil fuels.  The international community has kind of moved on to renewables and I think that that’s come at a bit of a cost for India.  The other thing I think the reason why I think this should be very gradual for India, whatever international responsibilities it should take on, is the fact that we forget that there’s one of the energy consumption side where, you know, there are a lot of poor people, therefore whatever, right?  But a country like India has lots and lots of livelihoods deriving from fossil fuels.  You know, if you look at, you know, the numbers that we did some time ago, maybe, you know, twenty, thirty, forty million people in India directly or indirectly.  So the transition away from fossil fuels also has this huge cost, political cost, social cost, of, you know, dealing with people who (inaudible), you know, drive their livelihoods.  And we know from, you know, debates around the world, even including, you know, (inaudible) opinion on the United States, that, you know, it’s not easy.  Today it’s easy because very few people live off coal in West Virginia, so you can have these conversations.  But in India lots of people still…  And I think all of this doesn’t get recognized adequately.  Finally I would say that, you know, to be fair to the Indian government I think they’ve invested a lot in renewables.  This government, you know, changed, you know, the Paris – it’s been a big part of the Paris Accord, very ambitious to new energy targets.  But I’m kind of coming more and more also around to the view that the way you can reconcile the energy needs with, you know, the whole carbon footprint globally is really if renewable energy becomes genuinely competitive – (all) cost in genuinely competitive, and then, you know, the transition to (inaudible).  But at the moment I don’t think we’re at that stage.  I think people kind of – there’s a bit of hype that we’ve reached (that), and I find it a little bit irritating.


KATIE:  Yeah, I thin it’s so complicated.  And I – Rose and I are certainly responsive to the poverty argument.  But I think for some people where the argument for gradualism falls apart is that given India’s scale and the degree of severity of the climate crisis, that we don’t have time for gradualism on the part of any of the largest economies in the world.  Is there a way or a pathway that you see where you can have gradualism in an economy like India without blowing your carbon budget?  What would that look like?


ARVIND:  [LAUGHTER] I think it would be extremely difficult right now.  I can’t – I don’t think one should be, you know, disingenuous about this.  I think one should be honest and say, you know, it is going to be very tough, you know?  The only way it happens is if energy access is kept squeezed and kept lower.  And that’s I think what the West can really do for climate change is to just get the technology going so that the cost of renewable really, really collapse even more.  And that’s – once that happens of course, you know, you’re in a completely different dynamic.


KATIE:  So we’ve talked a lot about fossil fuels, but we did also want to make sure that we talked to you about India’s renewable ambitions.  The country has made huge investments.  I think there was an initial call of 175 gigawatts by 2022, a new goal of 450 gigawatts by 2030.  Do you see those targets as realistic, and where does India kind of stand today on that pathway?


ARVIND:  I think the truth is that the realism of the targets will really I think depend upon how the economics of renewables pans out.  I mean, that’s kind of the critical…  Because I don’t think that any government in India can actually say, “Look, we’re not on a trajectory to meet those targets.  The way we’re going to do it is through policies of higher carbon taxation.”  I mean, that ain’t going to happen, because that’s just going to be…  Even as we speak now the fact that all – you know, the petroleum prices have gone up in India quite sharply through a combination of global prices and petroleum taxes and things.  It’s a big political issues now when prices go up like this.  So it has to be a kind of technology natural way forward to meet these targets.  It cannot really be a kind of policy-induced, tax-induced behavioral change.  I just don’t have the confidence that that’s the way forward.


ROSE:  Is there any one thing that makes you hopeful?  Because, you know, knowing all of these kind of political complications, knowing the real development challenges and the real need, the poverty, and knowing the climate imperative and pollution imperative and all of this, is there one thing that you can say, given this logjam, is there one thing that makes you feel like all is not lost; there’s something to work with?


ARVIND:  Well, to be honest I think the only thing that I think makes me optimistic is technology and the rapid pace of reduction of the cost of renewables.  Because to be honest, I think this fight to me, while I am encouraged by the political economy changing (inaudible) within India in favor of a cleaner energy because of the cost of pollution and so on, I mean, it’s just not happening fast enough.  You know, let’s face it–I think in countries like India, you know, they – it’s the middle class and elite that have a lot of power and influencing decisions, right?  In this (pollution) example it’s not the poor that are been affected–people who live in rural India are not affected by this pollution–it’s the rich middle-class elites that are being affected by pollution.  You would think that they would have so much voice and say in the political system that they would have been able to change this.  It hasn’t happened.  That comes back to your question–the optimism has to be on the technology side.  It’s not on the politics is suddenly becoming better and, you know, easier, and, you know…  That unfortunately I’m very sad to say I don’t have that.  I mean, and this is true all over the world; it’s not just true of India.


ROSE:  All right, this wouldn’t be the first time on this podcast we’ve landed on a technological miracle [LAUGHTER] as the solution.  All right, thank you so much for these great insights, Arvind.




KATIE:  Coming up, we ask Arvind about what “energy access” truly means, and how he might solve the problems plaguing India’s power sector.


ROSE:  And we play Rant or Rave to learn about his views of international soccer and the best way to listen to music.




KATIE:  According to the World Bank about 97% of India’s population currently has access to electricity.  But as we all know, that only really captures one element of connectivity: are you connected or not?  Much of the population still experiences regular blackouts, voltage fluctuations, and other problems.  What alternative indicators, other than a binary “are you connected or not?” would give you a fuller sense of what energy poverty really means in India today?


ARVIND:  I would say, you know, how many have uninterrupted access to the power grid?  You know, it’s, like, you know, if I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts I take power for granted, and that should be the standard.  So uninterrupted access to the power…  You know, because one thing that slightly disturbs me about this conversation about energy access is, you know, the sense that you can have kind of decentralized power, a bit of solar here and solar cooker there, and, you know, you say, wow, you know, everyone has access to solar cookers.  I mean, that’s just a condescending double standard.  I think that you’re absolutely (inaudible)–uninterrupted access to the power grid, if you believe that, you know, all humans should have human dignity and, you know, a similar access to well-being, that should be the standard.  But I think on that standard I don’t know that the World Bank actually measures that cross-country.  I don’t think – believe it does.  But I think that would be a much better metric.


ROSE:  Back to the grid, India’s power sector faces a number of (inaudible) challenges that sounds familiar to our listeners in many African countries.  So (inaudible) making utilities and efficient transmission-distribution networks, politicization of electrification, you name it.  So if you could wave a magic wand, you know, what are one or two solutions that nobody talks enough about but you would prioritize rolling out first to fix this power-sector crisis – chronic power-sector crisis?


ARVIND:  Let me first begin being even more pessimistic and then try and come [CROSSTALK].




ROSE:  I didn’t list enough problems?  Okay. [LAUGHTER]


ARVIND:  I actually have written extensively on, you know, the power sector in India.  My team and I did a lot of work together.  The additional complication in India is that production, transmission, distribution, you know, responsibilities and, you know, regulatory whatever, decision-making power is not with one centralized authority.  It’s actually distributed between the center and all the states.  And (inaudible) say the states or whatever they are.  So for example, power regulation, there’s both a central regulator and regulators at all the states.  So for example, power (tariffs) in India are set by the regulators in each state.  And then you have central-government public-sector power plants.  You have state-government public-sector power plants.  So it’s a nightmare of, you know, overlapping decision-making, which kind of makes things even more difficult.  So any solution in India for this cannot, you know, happen with the, you know, central government taking action.  It has to be done with the state governments.  So that’s – for India I think (there’s) kind of policy and there’s a process as well, right?  I think on process–you know, and I’ve written about this extensively–is that the only way this happens in India is if the center and the state governments kind of come together to do this cooperatively.  I mean, it can’t be done by one or the other.  And that just raises a whole set of political issues because, you know, the party in the center may not be the party in the state.  I mean, and you get all these [CROSSTALK]…


KATIE:  The joys of federalism.


ARVIND:  Yeah, exactly.  And, you know, the joys of federalism, you know, the California problem was the – you know, whatever, right?  So I think that process is going to be terribly important.  Now, in terms of the solutions themselves, to get (inaudible) of the subsidy and to price power realistically are just the starting point.  I think we need to get into a dynamic where you can show that if you charge for power you actually get better power, and, you know, uninterrupted power.  So changing, you know, the dynamic of the politics of this, that is for people to know that free power is bad power or no power, to actually saying, you know, you pay for power, you actually get better power, and you’re better off even after paying for it.  So I think that is at the heart the challenge, one challenge.  The other of course related is can we have…?  Because remember, one (iron) law in all this is that it’s very difficult to take away an entitlement, whether it’s in rural India or in the United States.  You know, you can’t take away entitlements.  So in India – so the power subsidy problem, really the way forward is can you replace them with cash transfers?  I think that has to be the – a big part of the solution for this.  And then of course, you know, hopefully the technology comes in (back) on the production side, it facilitates, you know, moving away from the fossil fuel into, you know, the renewable energy stuff.  So, you know, these are kind of some process, some policy-content-related ways of kind of moving forward.


KATIE:  Great, thanks Arvind.  Well, one final question for you.  The problems that you’re describing touch on technology, policy, personal behavior, consumer perspectives.  And your own experience is interesting because you’ve worked on these issues from international institutions like the IMF, but also from within India’s national government and now from think tanks.  Can you share maybe one observation about how each of those three entities comes to these problems differently, or comes to solutions differently I should say?


ARVIND:  [LAUGHTER] I’m going to be a little bit brutal here, and…


KATIE:  Hey, that’s what we like.


ARVIND:  I think outsiders have no clue.  I think think tanks, international institutions…  I mean, the notion that this could somehow be divorced, you know, the problem and the solution, from the operation of domestic politics is just crazy.  I mean, just…  Let me give you one example of that which I find extremely disturbing.  And Rose, you can correct me if I’m wrong, if I’m being…  I’ve always found in discussions of power and energy in Africa the focus has always been on “Let’s increase capacity, let’s produce power.”  But power needs massive – a regulatory apparatus to do this.  Kenya has to do it – you know, has to have a proper power regulatory authority to be able to do all kinds of things.  So the outsiders, they say, “Oh, let’s get finance, let’s build a (plan).”  It’s kind of completely – you know, it’s coocoo land in terms of, you know, the way forward.  So I actually think (in all the) different perspectives there are wrong perspectives and difficult but right perspectives.  And I think the outsiders just don’t have a good sense of this.  And, you know, I think I would shut down World Bank financing of any international agency, you know, saying, “We can help you reform the power sector,” whatever.


ROSE:  Inside the politics are quite challenging.  How did you manage that, being in the center of the decision-making (levers)?  But then that seems to have it’s own challenges in the Indian government.


ARVIND:  So this actually happened.  So I went to meet a chief minister of a state.  It’s like a governor of a state in India.  And, you know, I had a long, wonderful conversation.  He’s a very thoughtful, enlightened politicians in a state called Bihar.  So I went to him and said, “Okay”–I have a slightly irreverent kind of way of chatting, you know that–and I said, “Let me challenge you – let me ask you a question, Mr. Chief Minister.  How many power (inaudible) do you think there are in your state?” which is Bihar.  “How many different prices (inaudible) power?”  And that’s the power (tariff), right?  So he said, “Five or ten.”  I said, “Completely wrong.”  Then he called the people in charge, supposedly, and he said, “How many?”  And they said, “Twenty, thirty.”  I said, “Completely wrong.”  I said, “There are at least seventy to a hundred prices (inaudible) power.”  So I went back to Delhi, I met him in this, you know, state.  And I went and did my homework because I knew that the actual data on another state–and I know this would apply–and then I went back and discovered that his state had something like 140 or 50 prices for power.  To his credit he rang me, you know, the next morning or the morning after and said – in Hindi he said, “Arvind (G), you were absolutely right.  We were completely wrong that there are, you know, so many.”  Just think of this, that (simpler things was), can we have not 150 prices for power…?  If you look at the power (shared)–it’s in one of the economic (surveys) we do–I mean, you’d be aghast at the categories, how they distinguish, you know?  Agriculture – farms growing cassava, less than two acres; growing rice, five acres; growing, you know, seven (inaudible).  I mean, it is – at that level of, you know, regulatory dysfunction one of the simple things I want to do is just to, you know, get that and make a little bit of progress, but not really.  Finally, you know, the state regulators would not – they’ve gone back to their ways.  And if you look at almost every state in India you’ll find that every state has 100 to 200 prices for power.  It’s like we think that a market is one good, one price.  This is, you know, one good, 150 prices.




KATIE:  Rant or rave: cassette tapes?


ARVIND:  Oh, so my – you know, I listen to a lot of music.  And because the technology when I grew up was all cassettes, and so I still have a collection of 200-300 cassettes with very old lives recordings, which are now stored away in India.  But I have great fondness and nostalgia for them.  So I just wish there would be some easy way of converting them into whatever digital – and I still haven’t come across that technology.  But until such time I will keep it, you know preserve them.  Even though I’m not going to use it again it’s one of those things that, probably like old books, you never want to get rid over.


KATIE:  Yeah, (inaudible) another push for a technology solution.


ROSE:  Yeah, I was just going to say, your technology wish list is getting quite long [LAUGHTER].  All right, speaking of technology, rant or rave: carbon capture and storage?


ARVIND:  You know, this is one – I want to rant about why people are not raving about it more.  I really think that if there’s one pet peeve I have about the international community it is not having invested enough in CCS.  This is my biggest gripe.  I think had we done more…  I’ve been told–and I’m not (inaudible)–there are limits t how much you can do on carbon.  But I have this uneasy feeling that we never invested enough to exploit its full potential.  And that’s because the world got enamored with renewables and kind of just completely dropped – I don’t know whether they dropped this ball or they just couldn’t care about it because of this.  So it’s one of my pet peeves that had we done more on this the reconciliation between energy needs and carbon footprint could’ve been a little bit better.  Because remember, Derek Turner, who I think writes very thoughtfully on energy issues, I’ve had this discussion with him.  And I think his view even today is that you may still need CCS for some of the hardcore industries like, you know – but you just cannot avoid, like, (inaudible) or whatever.  I think he has a bunch of really dirty industries which the way forward is through CCS.  So I’ll still make a last pitch for can we have, like – like we did for MRNA vaccines–can we have something for CCS?  I mean, I think that would be hugely important for all those countries that (just) rely on carbon and fossil fuels for their energy needs.


KATIE:  Okay, last one.  Solar auctions?


ARVIND:  Wow.  Solar auctions are like financial markets.  I think that overexuberant bubbles, false optimism kind of fed partly on, you know, techno utopia, etc., etc.  Because I think the experience of India’s solar options has been somewhat very sobering.  You know, people overbid, they couldn’t live up to their obligations for delivering, you know, cheap power, and then had to go back to renegotiate some of these prices of the solar options.  In any developing country once you open up renegotiation it’s just a can of worms.  Because, you know, all the – the whole rent-seeking and corruption and all these things take over.  But in some ways that was happening because of the solar options which kind of…  I get it about price (discovery) and all of that stuff.  You know, I get it why financial markets are important.  But I think the record of solar options, at least as I saw them in India, have been a bit mixed.




ROSE:  Arvind, thanks so much for being with us here on High Energy Planet.


ARVIND:  Thank you so much for having me.


KATIE:  That’s it for today’s show.  High Energy Planet is a production of the Energy for Growth Hub, an energy solutions connector matching policymakers with evidenced-based pathways to a high-energy future for everyone.  Find out more at and tweet your questions and thoughts to us at @EnergyforGrowth.


ROSE:  If you liked today’s episode be sure to rate and rank the podcast and tell a friend about us.  Bob Lalasz is our executive producer, (Gray Johnson) is our senior producer.  Join us next time for more High Energy Planet.