Few things seemingly excite Niti Aayog, the Indian government’s think tank, as much as electric vehicles (EVs) and clean energy. It’s evident in the slew of new reports on the topic that Niti Aayog has been publishing, complete with bullish numbers. 

Most of these reports are written in collaboration with other think tanks in the domain. These think tanks provide not only policy recommendations, but also help set targets and plan roadmaps to get there. When you read the reports, though, one name keeps repeatedly popping up—RMI. 

RMI has co-authored 10 out of 15—that’s nearly 70%—of Niti Aayog’s research reports in the electric mobility vertical since the think tank’s establishment in 2015. This is according to The Ken’s research, which analysed publicly available reports on Niti Aayog’s website. 

RMI is the rebranded name of the US-based non-profit, Rocky Mountain Institute. The four-decade-old organisation pushes for the adoption of “market-based solutions” that help users cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to clean forms of energy and mobility. The organisation, which provides pro-bono work to governments, has an enviable list of donors, ranging from Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund to the philanthropic giant Rockefeller Foundation. 

The Origins

Set up in 1982 by American professor and scientist Amory Lovins, RMI describes its mission as “transforming the global energy system to secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all”. It also states that it works with businesses, policymakers, communities, and other organisations to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut global greenhouse gas emissions at least 50% by 2030.

RMI India set up shop in the country in 2019. And in a dizzyingly short span of time, the non-profit managed to get its foot through the doors of India’s policy circles, much to the surprise of even veterans working in the field, such as The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). RMI India’s top executives are present in nearly every meeting with Niti Aayog and government committees that discuss the clean energy agenda, say several sources from the industry. 

“RMI has been doing the leg work for Niti for a while now,” said a Delhi-based renewables professional. The professional and other sources from the industry The Ken spoke to requested anonymity as they aren’t authorised to speak to the media. 

When asked about RMI India’s influence, a Niti Aayog professional told The Ken that various organisations are consulted in different domains, based on their expertise. “RMI has been in the field for several years. They get us inputs, that’s all. Nothing more or less,” they said.

RMI’s rise can be partly alluded to Niti Aayog’s desire to move away from established think tanks, which had perceived links to the previous governments, said the director of a rival non-profit organisation.

AUTHOR

Shruti Sonal

Shruti is a Delhi-based reporter who looks at India's clean energy ecosystem through the lens of the intersection between businesses, policy and environment. She has previously worked with Reuters and Outlook Business.

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