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This International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) & Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) three-part commentary series takes a deep dive into how India’s energy sector is coping with the impacts of COVID-19 and what this means for the sustainable energy transition. We explore three key themes.

This workstream is linked to global efforts to track government support for fossil fuels and renewables in light of COVID-19, as reported in the Energy Policy Tracker launched in July 2020 by IISD in partnership with 13 other organizations.

Part 3 – Social Sustainability: Energy affordability and pricing reform in India

The COVID-19 crisis has had dramatic impacts on the ability of families across India to afford the cost of living. At the same time, as covered in our first commentary, the pronounced drop in electricity demand during lockdown has worsened the financial stress of electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs). Tariff reforms are a longstanding recommendation for DISCOMs to improve their finances—but what now is the agenda for price changes in this period of economic difficulty?

To address these issues, IISD and CEEW held a closed-door roundtable session on September 3, hosting around 15 participants from India’s energy think tank community. This commentary synthesizes highlights from IISD’s efforts to track COVID-19 impacts, the roundtable discussion, and its broader program of work on targeting electricity subsidies[1].