Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has told India’s new prime minister that he is keen to drive UK investment in India’s emerging green economy to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges the country faces.
On a trade delegation to India yesterday, Clegg and UK energy and climate secretary Ed Davey met with India’s recently elected prime minister Narendra Modi, to discuss a wide range of issues, including economic growth, education, climate change, and global trade.
Modi, who was elected to office earlier this year, has emerged as a champion of renewable energy, announcing plans to improve energy efficiency and accelerate the rollout of solar power to the 400 million people in India who lack access to electricity.
Clegg and Modi also discussed how the UK could advise India on policies designed to boost low-carbon investment and how the UK could help India clean up the Ganges using techniques previously deployed to improve the quality of London’s River Thames.
Clegg has been joined on the three-day delegation by Davey, who met with his Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal, minister for power, coal and new and renewable energy, to discuss the need for power sector reforms in India. Today he also met with infrastructure giant Essar Group and tomorrow he will travel to the new state of Telangana in the south of India, and its capital Hyderabad.
Speaking to an Indian newspaper yesterday, Davey said the UK was poised to commit “substantial resources” to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is designed to help developing countries such as India tackle the challenges presented by climate change.
However, he reiterated the need for private investors to pledge the lion’s share of funds that are required to scale up low-carbon technologies and adaptation measures.
“In the UK, we are attracting billions of pounds into renewable energy from the private sector, and not the public purse, and I am sure this can be replicated in India,” he said. “Technology follows from finance and it is developing rapidly. So many new technologies are coming through and we need to figure out how we can deploy them and innovate further so they are appropriate for different countries.”
Davey said small and medium-sized businesses in the UK were keen to invest in India, and that the UK was seeking to set up a deputy high commission in Gujarat to facilitate better trade relations.
He added that the UK was keen to understand India’s requirements in order to sign up to a global deal on climate change in Paris next year. “We have completely accepted that the developed world needs to cut its emissions,” he said. “I think we cannot expect countries such as India and China to cut their emissions in the short term; we accept they need to grow and reduce poverty but, in the medium term, emissions will have to peak and then decline if we are going to benefit everyone. We have a joint interest to tackle climate change, so we do have to act together; but I accept we will have to act in different ways.”
The trip comes as the new Indian government’s green credentials, which have been burnished by recent commitments to accelerate the rollout of wind and solar projects, were dealt a blow by new plans for fossil fuel investment. The Economic Times reported this week that the government is moving forward with plans for four new thermal power plants with up to 16GW of new capacity.
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