India has long been regarded as a deal-breaker in international climate negotiations; it was at the summit in Copenhagen that India first abandoned its old strategic line and made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions voluntarily. This shift was accompanied by a proliferation of domestic initiatives to save energy, to develop regenerative energies, etc. Traditional IR approaches remain insufficient to explain this policy shift - which is the aim of this paper - insofar as they fail to adequately take into account the fact that climate policies have to confront two audiences: a domestic and an international one, each presenting different tactical necessities for official reaction. On the international front, we argue that globally, India intended to be perceived as a responsible actor, one deserving of a greater say in global governance matters. On the domestic level, shrinking national energy reserves and mounting import dependence made the co-benefit of energy saving in reducing greenhouse gas emissions evident. The shift was made easier because important business associations aligned with a more eco-friendly development perspective and because the reduction commitments made by the Indian government on an international stage did not demand very stringent domestic emission reductions.
India climate policies greenhouse gas emissions international climate summits strategy shift energy saving