A film documenting the journey of the world’s first Emissions Trading Scheme for particulate matter in Surat, Gujarat, recently premiered at the world’s most significant climate leaders meeting in COP27 in Egypt. The movie, scripted and produced at EPIC India, was showcased at the American University in Cairo (AUC) ‘s pavilion at an event called “Evidence for Climate Change.”

Titled ‘Emissions Market India – Surat Leading the Way’,  the film documents the conceptualization, implementation, and impact of the world’s first pollution market for particulate pollution. The Gujarat Pollution Control Board led this multiyear project (GPCB), and researchers from the  Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, and the Economic Growth Center at Yale University have worked closely with GPCB in the design and delivery of this program.

In the film, EPIC South Asia Director Dr. Anant Sudarshan who is one of the principal investigators(PI) in this project said, “The Surat Emissions Trading Scheme is a story of different organizations and people all coming together to make something new happen in India.” Reflecting on the inception and journey of the ETS, Rohini Pande, Director of the Economic Growth Centre, at Yale University said, “Starting in 2009, we began work on a series of projects which helped us understand the importance of information to the regulators in improving factory performance. In 2010, we submitted a concept note suggesting an Emissions Trading System which would make use of trading markets in India could be an important way of improving emissions levels.”

In an ETS, or “cap-and-trade” system, the designated government authority sets a limit or cap on the quantum of pollution that industries may emit and allows permits for plants. Plants that can inexpensively cut pollution can make money by selling their permits to other factories. In this way, the system uses the power and flexibility of markets to deliver the win-win-win simultaneously by reducing the total cost of regulation, increasing firm profits, and protecting citizens from air pollution.

In the film, talking about ETS becoming a policy solution, Mr. R.B Barad, Chairman, GPCB said, “There is immense potential for the idea to be scaled up, and Gujarat has already started the process for an industrial cluster in Ahmedabad. We are also keen to implement it in other non-attainment cities and highly polluted industrial clusters.”

Talking about the project’s success, EPIC Director Michael Greenstone, a co-PI, shared, “The Gujarat Government was also taken by the results of this initiative that the Chief Minister of Gujarat has now instructed the GPCB to expand the ETS throughout the state of Gujarat.”

ETS has captured global headlines and garnered much attention in India and beyond. Based on the wins the project has garnered, the CM of Gujarat announced scaling up the program throughout the state and launching a CO2 market in Gujarat in May 2022. Other states like Punjab have also shown interest in launching pollution markets. The ETS project was also awarded the SKOCH Gold Award earlier this year.

Regarding the film’s production, EPIC India’s Communications Director Ashirbad S Raha, who co-directed the film, said, “When the research findings travel beyond journals to the masses, the possibility of it drawing policy attention is higher. And therefore, we must explore the potential of visual storytelling to communicate research. I am glad that colleagues at EPIC India and JPAL South Asia successfully documented the journey of this pathbreaking initiative into a seven-minute-long film that is now drawing national and international attention.”

Watch the full film here.