British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett on Friday acknowledged that there is a special responsibility on the developed countries of the world to take a lead in moving the world from a high carbon economy to a low carbon one. "Historically we have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions. Now we will have to bear a far greater proportion of the cost," she added.
She said International Energy Agency estimates that $20 trillion will be spent in the energy sector between now and 2030. "Our common task is to make sure that this money is used to move the world from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy. And that will require us to transform the very foundations of how we live: how we generate and consume power, how we move around, and how we use land."
Delivering a speech titled "UK and India: Partnering to meet Global Challenges", organised by Tata Energy Research Institute and Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, she said how exactly each government chooses to make that switch to a low carbon economy is of course their own choice. "There is no one-size that fits all… We support India's civil nuclear aspirations. We also know that we will all need to work together to address the twin challenges of nuclear waste and nuclear proliferation," she added.
She said British economist Nicholas Stern's report shows, "moving to a low-carbon global economy does not mean stopping that economic growth or condemning people to poverty. The cost will be around one per cent of global GDP - that is a lot of money - but it is roughly what the world spends today on advertising."
An unstable climate threatens the basic building blocks upon which individuals and nations lay the foundations of their security: food, water and energy, she said.
Climate change could lead to fall in crop yields in the sub-continent by as much as 30 to 40 per cent, dry areas experiencing massive increases in rainfall and warmer and more humid conditions leading to spread of malaria in new areas and the worsening of infection rates in those already affected.
Scientists now predict that one billion people in the South Asian sub-continent are likely to suffer from the reduction in Himalayan melt-water and from changes to the monsoon that will make it more variable, less predictable and more prone to extremes, she said.
Stating that India has the intellectual and manufacturing capacity to make the most of being a first mover, becoming a major hub of new technology and innovation, she pointed out that between them just three clean energy markets - wind, solar and bio-fuel - plus fuel cells are expected to grow fourfold and reach $167 billion by 2015.