Future of Human Settlements in Urban and Peri Urban areas in the backdrop of Energy Transition

At the heart of a Just Transition debate is the question of livelihoods and social protection. And a look into the future of human settlements keeping in mind those who will be affected in the process.

India is geared up to constitute the largest share of energy demand growth at 25% of the overall increase by 2040 with its electricity demand set to increase much more rapidly than its overall energy demand, as per the analysis of the India Energy Outlook, 2021 released by the International Energy Agency (IEA). In the context of rising global temperatures and its consequent indiscriminate ramifications, it becomes imperative to strike a fine balance among the trinity of economic development, environmental sustainability and social justice.

However, in the present global landscape, it is imperative to transition from carbon-intensive and polluting energy sources to renewable and sustainable sources of energy. This requires a comprehensive intervention at the policy, institutional, technological, socio-economic and behavioural level by suitable stakeholders including Union, State and Local Governments, industrial centres and their associated workers amongst others.

Given the intricate dynamics of India's fossil fuel economy, encompassing factors such as direct and indirect income reliance, skewed workforce distribution with informality of labour, the stagnant socio-economic structure of regions dependent on fossil fuels, concerns related to pollution and ecological degradation as well as the imperative to uphold social and environmental justice, there is a compelling necessity to design a comprehensive framework of a ‘just’ transition. Just Transition is an overarching concept which delves into resolving the ‘economic development - environmental sustainability dichotomy’ by creating a socially conducive atmosphere for engendering a sustainable, inclusive and equitable transformation.

The deep entrenchment of the fossil fuel dependent economy is evident from the scale of Thermal Power Plant(TPP) operations across India. With 210 GW of generation capacity amounting to 56.8% of the overall generation capacity in India, thermal power plants with less than 20 years of operations constitute a staggering 78% of this existing thermal capacity. These plants are here to stay and India is uniquely positioned to embark on a comprehensive and contextualised pursuit of just transition in the energy landscape.

FES India partner, INDICC Associates, carried out a research study to highlight key questions that aim at informing the human settlement framework in the event of decommissioning of thermal power plants. The study endeavours to establish an overarching framework for realising fair and equitable outcomes in the event of transition in the industrial and economic landscape and propose a pathway towards a just transition framework, that entails justice in its distributive, procedural and environmental sense. The framework aims to address all these multifaceted dimensions by identifying relevant stakeholders and leveraging disguised opportunities.

Human Settlement Framework for Thermal Power Plants in the Context of Just Transition

Authors – Dhwaj Khattar and Abhishek Kumar

Knowledge Partner - Centre for Energy, Environment & People (CEEP)

Dialogue Partner – PEN Media Literacy for All


Dhwaj Khattar is Technical Consultant-Green Economy with Indicc Associates having an experience in the renewable energy and energy conversion & storage sector and works at the intersection of policy, technology and finance for climate action.  He can be contacted at dhwaj@indicc.in.

Abhishek Kumar is the Founding Partner at Indicc Associates. He can be contacted at abhishek@indicc.in.

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