UK minister's India visit focuses on joint efforts on climate change

Aditi Khanna
·4-min read

London, Mar 20 (PTI) The UK and India are working to expand research and collaboration links to tackle climate change, Britain’s South Asia minister said on Saturday as he concluded a five-day tour of India.

Lord Tariq Ahmad, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth in the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said science and technology partnerships between the UK and India are already playing a vital role to tackle the most pressing global challenges, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic through joint work to provide doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured in India, to developing countries.

He also flagged a huge scope for expanding existing work to tackle climate change ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate summit, to be held in Glasgow in November.

“The UK and India have an invaluable partnership, including tackling COVID-19, with the Serum Institute of India manufacturing doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – drawing our brightest minds together to save lives as a global force for good,” said Lord Ahmad.

“India has quadrupled wind and solar capacity in the last decade and committed to net zero emissions in the Indian Railways by 2030. I saw first-hand how we can work even more closely together on tackling climate action by sharing our solutions and expertise. Deepening UK-India collaboration will be crucial to building up to a successful outcome at COP26,” he said.

The minister's visit coincided with the launch of the UK’s Integrated Review, which calls for a stronger UK focus on Indo-Pacific partnerships, ahead of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India and the UK’s G7 Summit in June which Prime Minister Modi has been invited to join.

Lord Ahmad’s visit, also intended to lay further groundwork for Johnson’s visit in April, covered meetings with leaders from Tamil Nadu to discuss how the UK could share expertise with India on offshore wind energy at the headquarters of India’s National Institute of Wind Energy in Chennai.

The UK has the largest offshore wind capacity in the world, and the minister said he looks forward to India attending the Global Offshore Wind Summit 2021 in London in September.

The FCDO noted Tamil Nadu’s ambitious target for all taxis, two and three wheelers in the state’s six major cities to be electric by 2030.

Ahmad also attended a roundtable at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras Research Park to build on links between the state and Dundee Council, which is a world-leading city in adoption of electric vehicles.

“Both the UK and India are proud signatories to the Paris Agreement, and the UK is keen to work with India ahead of COP26 in November to lead the global shift to a low carbon economy and expand access to sustainable energy,” the FCDO notes.

The ministerial agenda also covered Delhi, where Lord Ahmad met with senior Indian government ministers and visited the Lotus Temple for a roundtable on freedom of religion and belief. He also visited Chandigarh, where he met with agri-tech businesses, before heading to Chennai.

The visit built on the meeting between UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2020, which set out further cooperation on medicines and vaccines to address global healthcare.

“The partnership between the Serum Institute of India and Oxford University demonstrates the UK-India relationship at its best, ensuring developing countries receive vaccines, and is an ongoing example of the two countries working together to save lives as a global force for good in the world,” the FCDO said.

The Integrated Review, launched by Boris Johnson in the House of Commons earlier this week, sets out a new foreign, defence and development policy vision for the UK.

The FCDO highlighted that it makes clear the government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for national security, development and foreign policy, including through enhancing partnerships with nations including India.

“This will strengthen our security, build resilience to global challenges like climate change and Covid-19 and boost our strategic advantages through science and technology,” it said. PTI AK IND