Environment
 
Are India’s government-subsidised solar shops thriving or barely surviving?
Jennifer Richmond , Kartikeya Singh
Posted on: 10 Aug 2017

Government of India’s Akshay Urja programme sought to support the establishment of at least one shop per district for the sale of subsidised solar-powered technologies. Based on a survey of shop owners, this column finds that while the programme has been successful in establishing a network of solar shops across the country, many of the owners struggle to connect their products to large markets of consumers.
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Off-grid solar power and the future of rural electrification in India
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Jul 2017
Topics:   Environment

Off-grid solar power is a potential alternative to grid extension in rural electrification. This column reports results from a recent experiment with an off-grid lighting intervention in Uttar Pradesh. While little evidence of broader socioeconomic changes was found, the study suggests that kerosene subsidies likely hold back the expansion of off-grid solar markets, and that there are many ways in which benefits of off-grid solar power can be enhanced.
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Climate change: The potential impact on global agricultural markets
Arnaud Costinot , Dave Donaldson , Cory Smith
Posted on: 07 Jul 2017

Many fear that climate change will have severe effects on the global economy, particularly through the threat to food production and farmers’ earnings. This column suggests that much of the potential harm could be avoided if farmers can switch their crops in response to changing relative yields. But it is ‘intra-national trade’ – trade among farmers and between farmers and consumers within countries – rather than international trade that will be crucial in alleviating the consequences of climate change.
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Sacrificing consumption to mitigate catastrophic risks
Timothy Besley , Avinash Dixit
Posted on: 26 May 2017
Topics:   Environment

Many scientists agree that the probability of a rare environmental disaster increases as the stock of greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. This column asks how much consumption current generations should be willing to sacrifice to reduce the risk of such a future catastrophe. If there were a way of immediately eliminating the risk of all future catastrophes, society should be willing to sacrifice 16% of its consumption in perpetuity to achieve this. A sacrifice of 5.8% of annual consumption could bring about a 30% reduction in emissions, in line with the reductions contemplated in agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol.
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Demand for environmental quality information and household response to information: Evidence from Bihar
Prabhat Barnwal , Chander Kumar Singh , Alexander van Geen , Jan von der Goltz
Posted on: 20 Feb 2017
Topics:   Environment , Health

Groundwater contaminated with arsenic is a serious public health threat in rural India. This column presents results from a field experiment conducted in Bihar to assess the demand for fee-based testing of wells for arsenic, and to study the behavioural responses of households to well-specific arsenic information.
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Happy Seeder: A solution to agricultural fires in north India
Ridhima Gupta , E. Somanathan
Posted on: 12 Nov 2016

It is believed that much of the pollution in Delhi in November every year originates in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana where farmers burn their fields to dispose of crop residue. This column discusses a simple, practical and cost-effective solution to deal with the problem.
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Solar micro-grids in India: A reality check
Anant Sudarshan
Posted on: 01 Nov 2016

Much of India’s strategy to reduce the use of fossil fuels relies on a transition to solar energy. Based on a survey of potential solar micro-grid customers in Bihar, this column highlights the challenges associated with solar electricity becoming a sustainable and scalable solution, and the need for a new approach.
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The hidden productivity benefits of energy-saving technology: Evidence from LEDs in Indian factories
Achyuta Adhvaryu , Namrata Kala , Anant Nyshadham
Posted on: 03 Oct 2016

Energy-efficient technologies are an increasingly relevant policy priority, given growing consensus on the need to tackle climate change. This column examines the productivity benefits of adopting one such technology – LED lighting – for manufacturing firms in India. It finds that improved productivity resulting from LED lighting’s lower heat emissions makes adopting such technology far less costly than previous anticipated, particularly for labour-intensive firms in hot climates.
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How much will people pay for clean air? Evidence from China
Koichiro Ito
Posted on: 12 Aug 2016
Topics:   Environment

Policymakers in emerging economies such as India and China are ramping up efforts to confront pollution. A new study of the air purifiers market in China finds that people are willing to pay a lot to get rid of pollution, but the amount varies widely depending on a person’s income. This sort of metric can enable policymakers to assign values to their policies and guide their decisions.
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Improved cooking stoves in India: Evaluating long-run impacts
Esther Duflo , Michael Greenstone , Rema Hanna , Claire Walsh
Posted on: 13 Jul 2016
Topics:   Environment , Health

Improved cooking stoves are increasingly seen as an important technology to address indoor air pollution. While laboratory experiments have shown that they could have big effects on smoke exposure and emissions, this column finds limited long-run health and environmental impacts of an improved cooking stove programme in Odisha. This indicates the importance of testing interventions in real-world conditions taking into account willingness to pay, usage, and changes over time.
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