International politics of low carbon technology development: carbon capture and storage (CCS) in India
Kapila, Rudra Vidhumani
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This thesis explores the international political dynamics of developing low carbon technology. Specifically, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology as a climate mitigation strategy in a developing country context is examined. CCS is a technological solution that allows for the continued use of fossil fuels without the large amounts of associated CO2 emissions. This entails capturing the CO2 emitted from large point sources, such as a coal-fired power station, and transporting the captured emissions to be injected and stored permanently into geological media. Consequently, CCS is a bridging technology that could provide more time for transitioning to a low-carbon economy. A case study of India is used, which is an emerging industrialising economy, and is also the third-largest coal producer in the world. India faces a dilemma: poverty alleviation and infrastructure development to support its billion plus population requires vast amounts of energy, which is predominantly based on fossil fuels. Therefore, it was envisioned that CCS would be a sustainable option, which could enable industrialisation at the rate required, whilst preventing the exacerbation of the negative effects of climate change. However, during the period of study (2007-2010), CCS was not embraced by India, despite there being a growing impetus to develop, demonstrate and transfer the technology. India was reluctant to consider CCS as part of a mitigation strategy, and this thesis focuses on the reasons why. An interdisciplinary approach is used, coupling perspectives from science, technology and innovation studies (STS) with concepts from International Relations (IR) scholarship. This sociotechnical conceptual framework is applied to gain a more holistic picture of the failed attempt to transfer CCS technology to India. Key technical challenges and blockages are identified within India’s existing energy system, which have restricted CCS technology implementation. In addition, the political challenges associated with the rejection of CCS by the Indian Government are explored. Empirical evidence is on the basis of elite interviews, an expert stakeholder survey and relevant documents. Another case study on the Cambay basin is used to further demonstrate the influence of political factors on CCS implementation, even in an area considered to have suitable technical conditions. The outcomes of this study have implications for policy addressing global challenges, especially by means of international cooperation and technological change.