The federal state of India is among the most vulnerable countries in the world with regard to climate change. Despite its low per capita emissions, India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Accordingly, the country’s domestic climate policy requires substantial problem solving capacities to respond to these huge challenges involving different levels of government. This paper considers the question of whether comparative climate policy research should explore the role of India’s states in climate policy. Should state climate action in India be considered and even investigated through the “laboratories of experimentation” lens? By considering this question from a theoretical perspective, this paper aims at encouraging a more intense discussion of the topic. The paper presents a synopsis of the current state of research reviewing three strands of discussion: first, the laboratories of experimentation literature, second, comparative climate policy analysis dealing with the role of federal states in multi-level climate governance in the USA and Germany; and third, literature on the role of the Union states in India’s federal system. Moreover, to assess the scope for subnational state climate action, the institutional context of India’s multi-level climate governance structure is scrutinized. Using anecdotal examples of progress in Indian states, the paper calls attention to important areas of research which appear to hold key information but have not yet been adequately explored. It concludes that there are good reasons to include India’s states in comparative subnational climate policy research and, in particular, for considering interstate competition as a potential driver behind subnational climate action and energy policy in India.