Is Climate Change a Deciding Factor in India’s Elections?

As India gears up for its upcoming elections, a notable absence in political discourse is the discussion surrounding climate change and sustainability. Despite being one of the most climate-vulnerable countries, political parties have largely overlooked these critical issues, focusing instead on livelihood and governance concerns.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi vying for a third term and facing limited opposition, voters find themselves lacking candidates who prioritize climate and sustainability. Over the next few months, thousands of contenders will vie for seats in parliament, yet discussions about renewable energy, pollution, and environmental regulation remain conspicuously absent from campaign narratives.

According to Dhruba Purkayastha of the Climate Policy Initiative, climate is not a central election issue in India, as evidenced by the mere 0.3% of parliamentary questions related to climate matters over the past two decades. Despite the direct impact of climate change on communities like farmers and fishermen, public awareness remains limited, with basic needs taking precedence over environmental concerns.

The campaign trail itself contributes to environmental degradation, with its energy-intensive and plastic-laden processes leaving a significant carbon footprint. However, major political parties have yet to release their manifestos, with representatives from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hinting at promises geared towards overall development rather than specific climate action initiatives.

Under Modi’s leadership, India has set ambitious decarbonization goals, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2030 and 2070. Progress on renewable energy projects has been significant, with installed capacity more than doubling since 2014. Despite these commitments, coal continues to dominate India’s energy mix, highlighting a myopic approach driven by short-term political gains.

Nandini Das of Climate Analytics emphasizes the limited effort to integrate climate change concerns into mainstream political discourse, both nationally and across party lines. While India has demonstrated recognition of the importance of addressing climate change on the global stage, it struggles to prioritize these issues domestically.

As the election approaches, the Indian National Congress (INC) plans to include a dedicated section on climate action in its manifesto, signaling a potential shift in focus. However, the critical question remains: who will finance climate-focused initiatives? Sangeeth Selvaraju of the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute emphasizes the need for significant investment to achieve climate goals, raising concerns about funding sources in a country with limited financial resources.

As voters prepare to cast their ballots, the absence of robust climate policies in political discourse raises questions about India’s commitment to addressing one of the most pressing challenges of our time.


A content creator who is passionate about the intersection of culture and creativity, seeking to create content that sparks meaningful conversations and inspires positive change.

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