'Low-carbon technology can be another string to the bow of UK-India relationship'
Transcript of the speech by Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.
I am delighted to be here in New Delhi, and to have been asked to open this Observer Research Foundation event on technology and climate change.
In just over 24 hours here in Delhi, I’ve heard a remarkable amount about India’s impressive initiatives to deliver sustainable economic growth and tackle climate change.
Prime Minister Modi himself has written a book on the subject, called “Convenient Action”. And he has said that “India will lead the world in the fight against climate change”, building on its tradition of protecting and loving the environment. His personal commitment to sustainable growth and his track record as Chief Minister of Gujarat have positioned India as a global leader in the transition to a low carbon economy.
I want to emphasise that the UK shares India’s vision. We both want sustainable economic growth, which can only be secured through energy secure, low carbon and climate resilient economies. Studies like the New Climate Economy Report have shown that we do not have to choose between saving the planet and promoting growth – with the right policies we can do both.
Low carbon growth
Ladies and gentlemen, low-carbon growth is the key. And India can show the rest of the world how. I would like to commend Prime Minister Modi’s hugely impressive renewable energy target of 175 Gigawatts by 2022.
Renewable energy is good for energy access – supporting Prime Minister Modi’s plans for “Power for All”. It is good for energy security. The damaging effects on the global energy markets caused by instability in the Middle East are clear to see. Renewable energy can reduce our vulnerability to energy supply shocks.
And renewable energy is good for the economy. We’ve all seen the costs of renewables fall dramatically in recent years – by over 65% in India over the last three years, according to the New Climate Economy report. In particular, more and more research shows us that solar energy is now at grid parity in many countries.
Low-carbon growth can be at the heart of Prime Minister Modi’s impressive drive for Smart Cities. Green buildings, rapid transport, smart grids and effective waste management, creating cities of the future that are economic, low-carbon and climate resilient.
Low-carbon growth can underpin “Make in India”. With energy efficient industry and manufacturing reducing costs and maximising output. And low-carbon growth can make our cities and towns nicer places to live in. Better air, cleaner rivers, and healthier people, which are at the heart of Prime Minister Modi’s “Swachh Bharat” campaign.
So – as we have seen in India - it is clear how governments can set the direction; how governments can raise ambition. And governments need to work together.
There is no doubt in my mind that securing an ambitious agreement in the international climate change negotiations in Paris in 9 weeks’ time is our best chance to drive the scale of innovation and action that we need for a global transition to a low carbon economy. A global deal will send a clear signal to researchers, policy makers, investors and businesses that governments are committed to delivering a low carbon economy.
But governments alone cannot deliver the low-carbon transformation that we want. We need others to play their part. In the long term we will need to harness the innovation and brilliance of our scientists and engineers. Coupled with the entrepreneurial drive of the private sector, this will enable us to pave the way for the deployment of critical low-carbon technologies, some of which may not even have been invented yet.
What is the UK doing domestically?
At home, we understand this. So the UK government is investing heavily in energy research, development, demonstration and innovation. By the end of this year, we will have invested around £1.3 billion in low-carbon research and development since 2011.
But public spending alone cannot bridge the gap. We need to stimulate huge private sector investment in technology too. That is the most cost-effective way to decarbonise our economy.
I believe there is an important role for governments to create the environment for businesses to flourish, innovate and bring down the costs of new technologies, so that over-time they can compete on a level playing field with established technologies. That is why, within the UK, we focus our support on those technologies that are still maturing, and where industry and Government can work together most effectively.
What is the UK doing internationally?
Of course the scale of the challenge of a global low carbon transition is larger than any single country’s capacity or budget. This is why collaboration is key. Sharing new knowledge. Sharing skills and research facilities. Sharing experience and lessons learned.
And it is for this reason that the UK is also dedicated to strengthening financial flows from developed nations to developing countries that often lack the capital and capacity to invest in low carbon technologies.
There are numerous ways low carbon technology can be shared between countries. Countries are engaging multilaterally through the UNFCCC, the technology mechanism established in Cancun in 2010.
This aims to foster public/private partnerships, promote innovation, and facilitate joint R&D activities. The Green Climate Fund provides another way to support capacity building and technology development and transfer. The recent capitalisation of the GCF of $10.2 billion represents the largest initial resource mobilisation of a climate fund to date. The UK is committing $1.2 billion to this.
2015 is a critical year for the Fund to become fully operational. Countries are working together through the GCF board in the hope that we can start to approve high quality proposals for funding at the next Board meeting in November. And as well as the multilateral routes, there are also a whole host of bilateral partnerships on technology.
At the G7 Summit in June this year, G7 leaders supported a proposal, spearheaded by the UK, to work together to improve the transparency and coordination of clean energy research, development and demonstration.
A number of Upper Middle Income Countries are major players in areas of technology innovation, and of course India is no exception.
India has a reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship. It has a demographic dividend, with hundreds of millions of young people able to take up skilled jobs and drive improvements in technology. And there is huge potential for India to take its own technological advancements to the rest of the world.
We welcome Prime Minister Modi’s ambitious plans for a global R&D initiative among the world’s solar-rich countries. And India has filed over 15,000 applications for patents. Over the next 15 years we can expect South-South and Triangular Cooperation in this area to greatly increase.
UK and India
And that is why the UK is keen to work with countries like India on technology and innovation.
For instance, the UK is providing £50 million of funding over 5 years on a joint programme with India, called “Newton-Bhabha”, in honour of two of our great scientists. Newton-Bhabha funding is being used to set up joint UK-India centres for research in Renewable Energy. Amongst other things, these will aim to improve the integration of intermittent renewable energy through energy storage.
In 2013 we spent at least 3% of our £12 billion development budget on R&D. 41% of this was spent on supporting new technologies and innovation in developing countries.
The UK’s £3.87 billion International Climate Fund has helped to ensure middle income and developing countries are able to access low carbon, climate resilient technologies.
And the UK provides over a quarter of the contributions to the $5.5 billion multilateral Clean Technology Fund. A large proportion of this is flowing to India - into solar, energy efficiency and hydropower.
The UK is supporting the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, a public-private platform that develops innovative instruments to leverage low carbon technology at scale.
I know there is interest in establishing an Indian Innovation Lab, and the UK is very keen to support this.
Ladies and gentlemen, Prime Minister has said that the UK and India can be an “unbeatable combination”.
And I am certain that low-carbon technology can be another string to the bow of the UK-India relationship.
It is clear that together we already have an impressive track record in driving low-carbon growth. But it is also clear that we can do more.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UK in November is an excellent opportunity to build on what we already have, to raise ambition, and to show how India and the UK can lead the world in low-carbon growth.
And by working together on technology and innovation, we can agree an ambitious deal in Paris in December, and we bring 2 degrees within reach.
Thank you very much.