Talk on "Open Source Modelling Tools or Why Energy and Climate Policy in India Needs Some Fresh Air"

Shoibal Chakravarty
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 13:00 - 14:30

Abstract: Energy and climate policy debates, both at the global and the national level, depend on the outputs of various energy-economics and integrated assessment models. Despite the importance and complexity of these studies, the models are often closed, opaque and insufficiently documented.  Results are often driven by hidden biases, questionable assumptions, and at times, political or ideological needs. Furthermore, modelling capacity is primarily limited to research institutions in developed countries.  This definitely hurts the position of developing countries in international climate change negotiations as the parameters of the debate are set by those producing the intellectual output. In the case of India, a shortage of modelling capacity and scenario analysis  has handicapped debate and discussion on this important issue in academia and civil society. The Indian government's strategy in global climate change negotiations reflects this reality: it is primarily a position based on morals and principles rather than on hard-nosed economic or scientific analyses.

This talk makes a case for the need for open access models, developed primarily using open source software. We propose institutional frameworks that will use open access model development and lead to capacity building in India in the field of energy and climate policy. The goal is to bring down the cost of these tools, and develop these in an open, transparent and collaborative structure. This makes the best use of the thin and diffuse capacity that currently exists in this field in India, and allows a fast ramp-up of institutional capacity in the near future. A global endeavor will also lead to South-South cooperation in this field.  India, and the rest of the developing world, need to build the capacity to evaluate and solve their energy and climate policy challenges.  This will help better evaluate policy and regulatory questions like fuel taxes, appliance standards, feed-in tariffs etc.  Finally, this process will bring new perspectives to the global negotiation process, and allow India to explore a  more nuanced position.

Speaker’s Biography:
 Dr. Shoibal Chakravarty is a Research Associate at Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University. His current research is focused on the development of energy models and integrated assessment models using open source tools and publicly available data. Trained as a physicist (B. Tech, Engineering Physics, IIT Bombay; Ph.D, Physics, Princeton University), Dr. Chakravarty crossed the road, both literally and figuratively, to his current home in the Princeton Environmental Institute where he works on climate change policy.

Centre for Policy Research, Dharam Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi – 110021