A global challenge requires global solutions. Climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. We must take immediate and far-reaching action to avoid the devastating impacts of rising temperatures and not protect just ourselves but our future generations from the effects of climate change. We need countries, cities, states and businesses – to move onto a credible path to reach net zero globally in the coming decades. Collaboration between the UK and India will be crucial to tackling climate change.
This is already happening and is evident from the various engagement and ministerial dialogues both countries have been having in recent months. The COP26 President, Alok Sharma, has visited India multiple times in the past year to discuss a wide spectrum of topics related to tackling climate change, along with progressing sustainable development and net-zero commitments. He said, “The absolute focus for the UK Presidency year is delivery. I echo this sentiment.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II report released in February has shown the monumental climate risk, we face globally and how climate change has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people. The science is clear on this and urgent action is required to deal with increasing risks. The UK’s Ten Point Plan and the Net-Zero strategy sets out how the UK will deliver on its commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and focuses on areas to accelerate our path to net-zero — offshore wind, hydrogen, investing in carbon capture and finance, to name a few.
COP26, the global climate conference held in Glasgow last November, was a significant achievement. Nearly 200 countries came together to forge the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep 1.5C alive. The commitments Prime Minister Modi made at COP26 also sent an inspiring signal. India committed to a net-zero carbon-emission target by 2070 and targets to meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030. India can lead the world in pioneering a clean development path. Our two Prime Ministers also launched the ‘Green Grids Initiative – One Sun One World One Grid’ and ‘Infrastructure for Resilient Island States’ initiatives. India also signed up to the Glasgow Breakthroughs and the Zero Electric Vehicles Declaration under the emerging economies category. To ensure the Glasgow Climate Pact is brought to life, the UK is committed to working with India to reach its goals and is already facilitating British electric vehicle companies to set up manufacturing hubs in India.
Ahead of COP26, the UK pledged $1 billion investment from British Investment International into Indian green projects over the next five years and announced a guarantee for $1 billion World Bank lending to India. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan launched the Clean Growth programme to encourage more UK exporters to tap into a sector expected to be worth £1.8 trillion by 2030. The intent is to encourage clean growth businesses to start exporting their innovation globally. We also launched “Climate Finance Leadership Initiative India”, a private sector group led by Bloomberg and Tata, to move quickly to identify catalytic investments into Indian green projects.
India and the UK already have a strong history of partnership on climate, ranging from knowledge exchange and innovation in areas like electric mobility and power sector reform to climate resilience. In May 2021, our Prime Ministers agreed to enhance the adoption of electric mobility. They also adopted an ambitious India-UK Roadmap to 2030 to steer cooperation for the next ten years. They emphasized that enhanced India-UK bilateral cooperation can not only reap mutual benefits but also be a global force for good to revive lives and livelihoods, promote peace and prosperity around the world and protect and preserve the planet for future generations. Given that climate is also one of the pillars of the India-UK 2030 Roadmap agreement, a continuous collaboration between the UK and India will be vital.
Looking ahead, offshore wind is another foreseeable area to boost collaboration. The UK has installed more offshore wind capacity than any other country in the world. In 2020, our offshore wind generated 13% of total electricity in the UK, enough to supply the needs of 30% (10.8 Million) of UK homes. With India’s ambitions to install 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, India and the UK will definitely be natural partners.
The UK is also investing in India’s clean energy transition and mobilising public and private sector investment into green finance. The UK has invested over £67 million to date in projects on solar energy, water, climate and more. Plus, the Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF), a joint investment of £120 million from both India and the UK, is now the largest single-country emerging market climate fund in the world. Together, this has enabled an additional installed capacity of 413 MW of renewable energy, mitigated 1.14 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, and created over 53,000 jobs.
And there is an opportunity for the UK and India to work together to promote the clean growth agenda at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) where members, developed and developing economies alike, can discuss the mutually beneficial environmental and economic outcomes of sustainable trade, not least in the lead up to the Twelfth Ministerial Conference.
In January, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal launched negotiations on an ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA). An India-UK Free Trade Agreement would be a substantial opportunity for both of our economies and a significant moment in the India-UK bilateral relationship. While a deal between the UK and India will enable both economies to diversify and strengthen supply chains, one of the key areas that cannot be ignored is the unprecedented opportunity for green industries. An FTA would unlock opportunities for growth in our industries in areas such as offshore wind generation, electric vehicle manufacturing and carbon capture and storage.
Here in Maharashtra, the Government is at the forefront of mainstreaming climate change across policy and planning. Mumbai is aiming to be the first city in India to achieve net zero by 2050 – this also makes it the first city in South Asia to set such a timeline. Mumbai has also launched a Climate Action Plan to support the city combat the effects of climate change in the coming decades. The state of Maharashtra recently awarded an EV bus contract to a British company, which will include investments in the infrastructure of the state. British and Indian businesses are already working together to support our nation’s transition to a net zero economy. Harnessing the power of renewable energy will be key to this endeavour with the offshore wind a major focus for the UK and Indian governments and with India planning to install 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by the end of 2022 and 500 GW by 2030.
The UK already has the largest installed offshore wind capacity in the world, producing over 10 GW of energy. A figure we want to quadruple over the next decade. Our businesses can bring their capabilities and expertise to bear to support India’s growing demands for green energy.
Although India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, this is an opportunity as much as a challenge. India has already taken impressive climate action. The spirit of partnership between India and the UK is just one example of cooperation in the global climate story. Together we can improve our common future and mobilise businesses, buyers, exporters and investors to seize opportunities.
Source : The Economic Times