Climate club courting India

British secretary of state for environment, David Miliband, has done "his homework" before flying to India on a four-day visit on Sunday, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2007 02:54 IST
Vijay Dutt

He may be young, but his head is firm on his shoulders. The British secretary of state for environment, David Miliband, has done "his homework" before flying to India on a four-day visit on Sunday.

He is clear about the role of UK and India in meeting the challenges of climate change and believes that this year is vital for action. According to him, India is the pivot in meeting the challenges of climate change and that was why Prime Minister Tony Blair brought the trio — China, Brazil and India — into the G-8 ambit on the issue. He hoped that he would be able to discuss the "Stern's Review on the Economics of Climate Change" with experts in India, where economist Sir Nicholas Stern is "known and respected".

A few weeks ago, the British government released the Stern Report — a study on the effects of global warming and climate change on the world economy— compiled by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern. It is the first major government-sponsored report on global warming/climate change conducted by an economist rather than an atmospheric scientist.

Talking to the Hindustan Times, Miliband said, "My generations of politicians need to understand India. As an environment secretary, I have more than enough reason. We have to engage with India because it has much to lose from global warming, and yet much to gain because of its leap-frog economy."

"It can leapfrog towards low-carbon economic development in a way that will satisfy the aspirations of the people fighting poverty and ensuring development. It does not have to make mistakes that countries made with high-carbon development. We are bound together. It is our responsibility to generate finance flows to help India take the low carbon path — as equal partners."

He is keen to understand "how we can achieve low carbon affordable energy sources" in India. Miliband said, "low carbon was more expensive in short term than high carbon, so it is our responsibility to ensure that the cost gap is filled. We have set long-term targets for carbon reduction under the EU carbon reduction plan." By creating a European Union carbon market, there will be a clean development mechanism in place, when private sector investment flows into Indian projects, he said. "We will help generate finance so that India can take low carbon path."

Clean development mechanism is not just a plan to reduce carbon emission, but a devise to transfer resources from developed countries to a developing country. "Choose a low carbon path for your own sake — for countries like India will suffer the most," will be his message to the private sector.

Miliband said, "We have taken the responsibility to create a framework to support countries like India adopt a low carbon emission path." He hoped that India would take an "appropriate path" to gain, and not lose.

Miliband stressed it was crucial for India to play a strategic part "in the battle against global warming and in that it should get necessary help from everyone. Global warming is a challenge and I am interested to know how India is coping with it."

"A quarter of the Indian population lives in the coastal areas and 27 per cent of the country's economy is agro-based. Climate change and rising sea levels are dangerous for the people and the economy."

He said the British government wanted a real partnership with "equals" — the Indian government — in coming to terms with climate change and global warming. "We feel there is a moral and economic responsibility for industrialised countries to show that they are willing to take the lead in cutting carbon emission."He also said the first low carbon economy will have huge advantages and "I hope I will be able to discuss it with my Indian counterparts".

"It is vital that there is real engagement on how you combine development goals and climate change. My message will be if you want to be pro-growth, you have to be pro-green," Miliband said. "We collaborate on renewal energy with India and we need to have a global emission reduction deal," he said.

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First Published: Jan 21, 2007 02:54 IST