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State Climate Fellowship

Meet our State Climate Fellow in Punjab: Sehajdeep Kaur

24 November 2023, 6:41 UTC 4 min read

The State Climate Fellows initiative in India supports subnational climate action. In this interview, Sehajdeep Kaur speaks about climate action in the Indian state of Punjab.

Tell us about your work as a State Climate Fellow in Punjab. What are the most exciting aspects of work you are involved with?

There are many exciting aspects:

As a State Climate Fellow in Punjab, my work primarily focuses on facilitating communication and collaboration among various state government departments for Punjab’s Net-Zero Vision document which outlines the state's strategies to achieve carbon neutrality and serves as a guiding document for initiatives aimed at minimising greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, I am working on the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) for which I engage in peer reviews of SAPCC between different states, offering constructive feedback and suggestions among other things.

I have also worked closely with the knowledge centre department and collaborated with various other departments to exchange insights and best practices for achieving optimal project outcomes. For instance, I have enabled knowledge sharing by exchanging sample data between Punjab and West Bengal. This has helped in sharing best practices and learning from each other's experiences. 

Similarly, I have contributed to the compilation and analysis of best practices from the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) of Punjab to identify successful strategies that can be implemented in the state. To encourage effective decision-making and set realistic and achievable goals, I have also worked towards analysing baseline data [obtained from SAPCC 1.0.] to identify key trends, challenges, and opportunities.

Another aspect of my responsibilities involves coordinating with the Agriculture Department to create a case study on their achievements and innovations in paddy cultivation. This case study is essential in understanding the impact of agricultural practices on climate change and identifying areas for improvement. Lastly, I have implemented an ambition tracker to monitor and evaluate the progress of Punjab's data, to ensure that state targets are effectively measured and met. 

What unique opportunities does Punjab present in terms of climate action work? What are your biggest challenges?

Punjab presents several unique opportunities for climate action: 

  • The state has diverse ecosystems, which allow for a holistic approach to climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Specifically, the agricultural sector is a significant contributor to the state's economy and can be leveraged to implement sustainable farming practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Punjab's commitment to solar power presents a great opportunity for transitioning to a low-carbon energy system. The state's ample sunlight and available land can be utilised to establish solar power projects.
  • Punjab's well-developed industrial sector also offers the potential to implement energy efficiency measures and collaborations between industries and the government can lead to innovative solutions for sustainable production processes. 
  • The state's focus on sustainable urban development and waste management provides an avenue to promote green infrastructure, public transportation, and waste reduction practices.

 However, there are some challenges:

  • Climate action involves a multidisciplinary approach, and aligning different agendas and priorities can be complex and time-consuming. The effort to coordinate and collaborate with various departments and stakeholders can prove to be a rewarding yet challenging task.
  • Climate action requires data-driven decision-making, and sometimes accessing accurate and reliable data on emissions, energy consumption, and other relevant factors can be challenging. This hinders the formulation of effective strategies and monitoring of progress. 
  • Educating and mobilising communities requires continuous efforts and innovative communication strategies. Many people may not fully understand the urgency of climate change or the actions they can take to mitigate its impacts.

As a young professional, how has your experience been working on climate action at the subnational level with the government?

Working on climate action at the subnational level has been a truly enriching experience, equipping me with valuable insights into the complexities and opportunities of implementing climate initiatives at the local level. For instance: 

  • I have had the opportunity to participate in translating national and international climate goals into actionable strategies that are specific to the needs and challenges of the state. This experience has deepened my understanding of aligning global climate objectives with local realities.
  • Working with various government departments and stakeholders has enabled me to understand the intricacies of cross-functional collaboration. Climate action is not confined to a single sector but requires the collaboration of multiple departments. This has taught me the significance of effective communication, negotiation, and consensus-building to drive climate initiatives.
  • Participating in various initiatives has allowed me to witness the direct impact of climate action on local communities, reinforcing my commitment to address climate change with a sense of purpose. I have seen how initiatives such as promoting sustainable farming practices or implementing renewable energy projects can improve livelihoods and enhance resilience to climate impacts. 
  • On the other hand, I have also encountered challenges, such as navigating bureaucratic processes and overcoming resistance to change but they have encouraged me to further develop my adaptability, perseverance, and problem-solving skills.

How do you think your fellowship is contributing towards Punjab’s subnational climate action goals?

The State Climate Fellowship has been instrumental in giving me an opportunity to contribute towards Punjab's subnational climate action goals by fostering collaboration, leveraging best practices, shaping policies, conducting case studies, and implementing tools to monitor progress. I am helping to ensure that climate initiatives are well-rounded and comprehensive, addressing a range of challenges and opportunities. 

Through these efforts, I am confident that as a fellow my work is making tangible contributions towards achieving a more sustainable and resilient future for Punjab.


The State Climate Fellowship has been instrumental in giving me an opportunity to contribute towards Punjab's subnational climate action goals. I am helping to ensure that climate initiatives are well-rounded and comprehensive, addressing a range of challenges and opportunities.

-Sehajdeep Kaur