Implementation of Accelerated Policy-Driven Sustainability Transitions: Case of Bharat Stage 4 to 6 Leapfrogs in India

In Sustainability
Volume (Issue): 13 (8)
Peer-reviewed Article

In the face of pressing environmental challenges, governments must pledge to achieve sustainability transitions within an accelerated timeline, faster than leaving these transitions to the market mechanisms alone. This had led to an emergent approach within the sustainability transition research (STR): Accelerated policy-driven sustainability transitions (APDST). Literature on APDST asserts its significance in addressing pressing environmental and development challenges as regime actors like policymakers enact change. It also assumes support from other incumbent regime actors like the industries and businesses. In this study, we identify the reasons for which incumbent industry and business actors might support APDST and whether their support can suffice for implementation. We examine the actor strategies by drawing empirical data from the Indian national government policy of mandatory leapfrog in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle emission control norms, known as Bharat Stage 4 to 6. This leapfrogging policy was introduced to speed up the reduction of air pollutants produced by the transport sector. A mixed-methods approach, combining multimodal discourse analysis and netnographic research, was deployed for data collection and analysis. The findings show that unlike the status quo assumption in STR, many incumbent industry and business actors aligned with the direction of the enacted policy due to the political landscape and expected gains. However, the degree of support varied throughout the transition timeline and was influenced by challenges during the transitioning process and the response of the government actors. The case suggests we pay more attention to the actors’ changing capacities and needs and consider internal and external influences in adapting the transition timelines. This study contributes to the ongoing discussion on the implementation of APDST, by examining the dynamism of actor strategies, and provides an overview of sustainability transitions in emerging economies.