Centre for Research on the Economics of Climate, Food, Energy and Environment


Forth Coming Seminars:

  • CECFEE Seminar: The Social Costs of Keystone Species Collapse: Evidence From The Decline of Vultures in India 

     Speaker: Prof. Anant Sudarshan, University of Chicago
     Date : Friday, March 26, 2021 @ 9:00 AM
     Venue : Webinar
     Contact : Kaniskha Kacker (kkacker [at] at’isid’dot’ac’dot’in)


 Losses of keystone species that affect environmental quality through their ecosystem interactions can have large effects on social costs. However, crucial parameters for the management of their preservation are often not available. Determining an optimal recovery strategy requires knowing the benefits lost in their absence, defensive expenditures linked to their loss, as well as the direct rehabilitation costs. We study the above in the setting of vultures that serve a major public health role by preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Vulture populations fell in the Indian subcontinent due to the presence of a chemical residue in livestock carrion. The use of the chemical painkiller in livestock animals became widespread after its patent expired and generic versions of the drug made it widely accessible for veterinary uses. Using distribution range maps for the affected vulture species, we compare districts before and after the collapse in vulture populations. We estimate all-cause death rates increased, on average, by six percent in the highly-vulture-suitable districts after vultures nearly went extinct.

Past Seminars:

  • CECFEE Seminar: Short- and Long-Run Consumption and Non-Payment Responses to Retail Electricity Prices in India 

     Speaker: Shefali Khanna, Harvard University
     Date : Friday, March 12, 2021 @ 9:00 AM
     Venue : Webinar
     Contact : Kaniskha Kacker (kkacker [at] at’isid’dot’ac’dot’in)

  • CECFEE Seminar: October 16th, 2020  

     Speaker: Dr. Takahiko Kiso, University of Aberdeen
     Date : Friday, October 16, 2020 
     Venue : Webinar
     Contact : Kaniskha Kacker (kkacker [at] at’isid’dot’ac’dot’in)

  • CECFEE Seminar: The effect of climate policy on productivity and cost pass-through in the German manufacturing sector 

     Speaker: Prof. Beat Hintermann, University of Basel
     Date : Friday, November 20, 2020 @ 2:PM
     Venue : Webinar
     Contact : Kaniskha Kacker (kkacker [at] at’isid’dot’ac’dot’in)

  • CECFEE Seminar: Out-of-merit costs and blackouts: Evidence from the Indian electricity market.  

     Speaker: Dr. Louis Preonas, University of Chicago
     Date : Friday, February 15, 2019 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
     Venue : Seminar Hall 2, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi
     Contact : Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay (abhiroop’at’isid’dot’ac’dot’in)


In the United States, demand for electricity among utilities in the wholesale spot market is assumed to be perfectly inelastic. Consumers therefore face power outages only as a result of infrastructure failure – never because a utility does not purchase enough electricity to satisfy demand. This also implies that inefficiencies on the generation side of the market which raise price do not impact quantity consumed by retail customers. In this paper, we provide evidence that utilities participating in the Indian wholesale market are extremely price elastic: as prices rise, they purchase less power on the wholesale market, meaning that load shedding increases. Using data on plant-specific marginal costs, we document substantial deviations from first-best electricity generation, half of which can be explained by plant outages. These inefficiencies increase the wholesale price, and therefore contribute substantially to rampant blackouts.

  • CECFEE Seminar: Integrated Assessment in a Multi-region World with Multiple Energy Sources and Endogenous Technical Change.

Speaker: Prof. John Hassler, IIES, Stockholm University
Date : Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Venue : Seminar 2, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi
Contact : E. Somanathan (som’at’isid’dot’ac’dot’in)


We construct an integrated assessment model with multiple energy sources – including fossil fuels and “green energy” – and multiple world regions. The energy sources are imperfect substitutes and their production involve structures that are endogenous. In particular, firms can decide to lower the marginal cost of producing one form of energy at the expense of the marginal costs of other energy sources: there is directed technical change. In the lowering of these marginal costs, there are also spillovers, which are international. We analyze how (potentially region-specific) taxes affect output and the climate with and without the endogeneity of technology. We emphasize the second-best nature of taxation when optimal world-wide technology subsidies are not implemented.


  • CECFEE Seminar: If people pay for improved biomass stoves, do they use them more frequently?

Speaker: Prof. Randall Bluffstone, Portland State University
Date : February 23, 2017 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Venue : Seminar 2, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi
Contact : E. Somanathan (som’at’isid’dot’ac’dot’in)


This paper uses a field experiment and real-time electronic stove use monitors to evaluate over a period of more than one year how different incentives affect usage intensity of one of the most important improved biomass-burning stoves promoted in rural Ethiopia. Understanding whether, how much and why improved stoves are used are important, because use frequency critically determines fuelwood and carbon sequestration benefits from the stoves. We evaluate three monetary treatments and carefully distinguish between short and long-run effects. We find that distributing the stoves for free is the preferred policy for promoting long-run adoption and use. Requiring monetary payments is not found to promote regular use of the technology.


  • Development Seminar @ Brookings India : Environmental Challenges in India

Speaker: Prof. E. Somanathan, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
Date : January 20, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Venue : Lecture Theatre, Brookings India, Second Floor, 6, Dr Jose P Rizal Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Delhi 110021, India
Contact : Shamika Ravi (shamika.ravi’at’brookingsindia’dot’org)
Discussant: Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute.
They will be followed by Shri Ajay Narayan Jha (Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India) who will give a Keynote Address.


Environmental problems including climate change, air pollution and forest degradation have reduced incomes and worsened health in India. Prof. Somanathan will examine the evidence on some of these findings. The weaknesses in our institutions that permitted this to happen will be highlighted. Some of these challenges, climate change in particular, are going to become more severe over time. The speaker will analyse some likely future technological, economic and climate scenarios that can emerge from this, and will examine the political and social reactions to these. Further, he will discuss the changes in the Indian institutions and policies that are required to address these challenges.

  • The Dirty Business of Eliminating Open Defecation: Findings from Two Randomized Control Trials of Sanitation Programs in Odisha and Madhya Pradesh

    Speaker: Sumeet Patil, The Colford Research Group, UC Berkeley and NEERMAN (Mumbai)
    Date: 11:30 AM, Friday, 30th January, 2015.
    Venue: Seminar Room No. 2.


Poor sanitation is thought to be a major cause of enteric infections and malnutrition among young children. However, can large scale sanitation programs indeed deliver the hypothesized health benefits? We answer this question in the context of India’s Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) using cluster-randomized, controlled trials in Odisha (2005-06) and Madhya Pradesh (MP; 2009-2011). In both sites, the interventions consisted of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) based behaviour change approaches and subsidies for toilet construction but the intensity and mechanism of the programs differed. We randomized 40 and 80 villages to treatment and control arms equally in Odisha (n~1086 households) and MP (n~3029 households), respectively, and estimated differences in the outcomes between the two groups in an intention-to-treat analysis.

In both trials, the interventions increased percentage of households with IHL in a village (by 19% in MP and by 25% in Odisha) and decreased OD among adults (by ~10% in MP and by ~17% in Odisha). However, the intervention in MP did not improve child health based on multiple outcomes (diarrhoea, HCGI, helminth infections, anaemia, growth). In Odisha, the height of children under 5 years of age in the intervention group was 1.49 cm larger than that in the control group (85.56 cm). We also find evidence of effect on child arm circumference, but not on weight and diarrhoea prevalence. We also find that the level of OD in the village is strongly correlated with height and arm circumference and the reduction in OD is associated with both subsidies for toilet construction and behaviour change interventions.

The collective evidence suggests that the future refinements of the TSC may immensely benefit by strengthening both the behaviour change and subsidy delivery aspects of the program. However, available evidence also cautions us that that the effect of improved sanitation may depend on other non-sanitation factors (WASH, public health, environmental, etc.). Therefore, contrary to the current approach, program refinements to the TSC ought to be proved in small-scale and short-term pilots across different regions of India before scaling up to the national level.

  • A New Policy to Reduce Land Conflict.

    Speaker: Gunnar Köhlin, University of Gothenburg .
    Date: 3:30 PM, Monday, 24th November, 2014.
    Venue: Seminar Room No. 2.


Land conflicts in developing countries are costly. An important policy goal is to create respect for borders. This often involves mandatory, expensive interventions. We propose a new policy design, which in theory promotes neighborly relations at low cost. A salient feature is the option to by-pass regulation through consensus. The key idea combines the insight that social preferences transform social dilemmas into coordination problems with the logic of forward induction. As a first, low-cost pass at empirical evaluation, we conduct an experiment among farmers in the Ethiopian highlands, a region exhibiting features typical of countries where borders are often disputed. Our results suggest that a low-cost land delimitation based on neighborly recognition of borders could deliver a desired low-conflict situation if accompanied by an optional higher cost demarcation process.

  • Cooking up change in the Himalayas: Evidence from mixing quasi-experiments with an experiment on cookstove promotion.

Speaker: Subhrendu K Pattanayak, Duke University.
Date: 3:30 PM, Thursday, 11th September, 2014.
Venue: Seminar Room 2.


Household preferences and relationships with promoting institutions should influence adoption of environmental health‐improving technologies, but there has been limited empirical research to isolate their importance, perhaps due to challenges of measurement and attribution. This paper explores first the heterogeneity in household preferences for different features of improved cookstoves (ICS). Second, we assess the degree to which preferences and relationships with the promoting institution are associated with actual adoption of ICS (electric and biomass‐burning) during a randomized ICS promotion campaign in northern India. Analyzing data from a discrete choice experiment (DCE) conducted during baseline surveys with 1060 households, we identify three distinct preference types using latent class analysis (LCA). These can be characterized as 1) disinterested in ICS (54%); 2) low demand but primarily interested in reduced smoke emissions (27%); and 3) high demand with interest in most features of the ICS (20%). The ICS intervention, which was stratified according to communities’ prior history working with the NGO marketing the stoves, was then randomized to 762 of thesehouseholds. We find that preference class and prior institutional history are both related to the ICS purchase decision. Distaste for smoke emissions appears to be a particularly strong driver for adoption of the electric ICS. Interestingly, the effect of preference class changes over time, which may indicate that initially recalcitrant households are influenced by the adoption decisions taken by those around them. Lastly, conditional on purchase, use of ICS observed during follow‐up surveys is greater in communities that have had previous interactions with the stove‐promoting NGO, but is unrelated to common socioeconomic drivers of adoption and preference class. This suggests that long term environmental and health benefits may be closely related to institutional support.