Climate is back on agenda. Amazon rain forests are disappearing and the world ignores the carbon footprint. The post-Covid industry sector will put their green credentials on hold to shore up profit. India is going to play a crucial role in bringing climate back on tracks. US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are keen to put climate protection on track. Indian-origin British minister Alok Sharma arrived in India on Monday for talks with interlocutors and captains of industry on strengthening the bilateral partnership on climate change.
Sharma, who is a Cabinet minister and holds the post of president of COP26, is on his first visit to Asia after assuming the position. During the two-day visit, he will meet senior ministers, business leaders and civil society to discuss climate issues and to prepare for the COP26 summit in November.
Sharma’s visit is expected to focus on India’s progress in climate action and clean energy transition. In recent years, India has played a key role in setting up the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), which is co-chaired by the UK, and the International Solar Alliance (ISA). India’s expertise is “expected to be of great value to global discussions on a clean energy transition as part of COP preparations”, the British high commission said in a statement.
During his meetings with business leaders, Sharma will highlight opportunities in the low carbon economy, existing commitments to achieve net-zero emissions and encourage influential businesses to promote the growing movement of corporate climate action throughout their sector and supply chain.
Sharma will meet experts and young thinkers, to discuss challenges and solutions to climate change.
“After a year of virtual meetings, the in-person visit signals a step-change in momentum to COP26 preparations, and reinforces Mr Sharma’s ambition to run an inclusive negotiating process that incorporates the views of all countries,” the statement said.
Sharma MP said: “When it comes to climate action, India is a key partner and a global leader. Together we can make change happen – delivering real progress on reducing emissions and building global commitments. The UK and India are already a joint force for good against climate change, and we look forward to strengthening this partnership in the run up to COP26 and beyond.”
British high commissioner Alex Ellis said Sharma’s visit is part of efforts to make COP26 a success and it will develop the bilateral climate partnership on clean and resilient development. “Hearing from the Indian government firsthand, as well as civil society and business, will be essential in informing the approach of the UK presidency as we work towards a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced outcome at COP26,” he added.
Sharma is the third UK minister to visit India since December; he was preceded by foreign secretary Dominic Raab and trade secretary Liz Truss. The visits also paved the way for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit later this year, during which climate cooperation will be a focus.
As host of COP26, the UK has set a legally binding target to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050. Between 1990 and 2018, the UK nearly halved emissions while growing its economy by 75%, and it will completely cut coal-use in the power sector by 2025.
The UK has also committed to double its international financing to £11.6 billion over the next five years, to help developing countries to take action on climate change. The UK is looking to its presidency of COP26 in 2021 and India’s presidency of G20 in 2023 to act as key platforms for implementing the Paris Agreement.
The UK is also investing in India’s renewable and clean transport sectors, including through the joint Green Growth Equity Fund and multilateral funds.
Priority themes at COP26 with great potential for collaboration include: adaptation and resilience; corporate action; green finance; clean growth and technology; and nature-based solutions.