Heidelberg University

Large Dams and
'Clean Development':
Transcultural Narratives about Global Environmental Change and their Asymmetric Impacts

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Project Member:
Duration: 2009 - 2012
Funding: Excellence Initiative "Asia and Europe"
Project number: C8

Selected Publications

The current discussion about global warming and the possibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through hydropower has given a new turn to the debate about large dams, resulting in the revival of this otherwise disputed technology. This trend becomes apparent in the massive financial support by which the international carbon trading scheme Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) subsidises dam building in China and India where the number of so-called ‘carbon offsetting dams’ is increasing exponentially. The re-evaluation of the perception and the promotion of large dams through the CDM constitute an up-to-date example of how transcultural narratives on global environmental problems and mitigation strategies translate into national and international policies. The project identified the origins, analysed the transformations, and assessed the asymmetric impacts of this latest turn in the large dam controversy.


Allain Duhangan Hydropower Project under construction, Himachal Pradesh, India (A.Erlewein 2009).

  • ERLEWEIN, A. (2014): The Promotion of Dams through the Clean Development Mechanism: Between Sustainable Climate Protection and Carbon Colonialism. In: NÜSSER, M. (Ed.): Large Dams: Contested Environments Between Technological Hydro-Scapes and Social Resistance. Heidelberg: Springer: 149-168.
  • ERLEWEIN, A. (2013): Disappearing rivers - The limits of environmental assessment for hydropower in India. In: Environmental Impact Assessment Review 43: 135-143.
  • ERLEWEIN, A. (2012): Energie aus dem Himalaya: Ursachen und Folgen des Wasserkraftbooms in Himachal Pradesh, Indien. In: Geographische Rundschau 64 (4): 25-33.
  • ERLEWEIN, A. & O. SCHMIDT (2011): Shifting legitimizations of large dams: A review of current debates on India and Turkey. In: MOVIK, S. & A. VATN (Eds.) Student Papers. Thor Heyerdahl Summer School in Environmental Governance. Volume 1: 94-108
  • ERLEWEIN, A. & M. NÜSSER (2011): Offsetting Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Himalaya? Clean Development Dams in Himachal Pradesh, India. In: Mountain Research and Development 31 (4): 293-304.
  • Further Information
    Excellence Cluster
    'Asia and Europe in a Global Context: Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows'
    Transmission line of Allain Duhangan Hydropower Project under construction, Himachal Pradesh, India (A.Erlewein 2009).