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Businesses kick-start low carbon collaboration between UK and India

Louise Bateman
15th November 2010
Businesses launched an initiative today that is seeking to increase low carbon trade and investment between the UK and India and promises to deliver business opportunities for SMEs.
The UK-India Business Leaders Climate Group (BLCG) is made up of some of the UK and India’s leading businesses and is chaired by Marks and Spencers chairman Sir Stuart Rose and Rajan Bharti Mittal managing director of Bharti Enterprises. Today, it launched a report identifying significant business opportunities in India for low carbon goods and services and set out for the first time a 'Charter of Principles’ aimed at boosting UK-India low carbon investment and trade in both directions.

"It’s absolutely vital that India and the UK work together to create sustainable low carbon economies, and greater business involvement in shaping low carbon solutions will help make this a reality," said Rose.

Among the tools the BLCG will launch to enable better low carbon trade and investment between the UK and India will be an online Clean Technology Development Directory to highlight early stage technologies looking for investment, and a Low Carbon Capital Manual to help raise capital and increase public private investment in low carbon projects in India. The group, which last met in Delhi in July during the UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to India, said it would also launch a Low carbon Economy Summit in India in 2011.

Although there are no plans at this stage to launch such an initiative with other countries, Mittal said the Charter could "serve as model to other countries".

"We recognise that our future trade will be increasingly low carbon and is a priority for all progressive governments and businesses," he said.

Main areas for investment and trade
Today’s report identified the main areas for investment and trade opportunities between the UK and India as being in clean energy, energy efficiency, low carbon technology, water waste management and related services.

Among the recommendations made were the development of joint demonstration projects to highlight low carbon opportunities, joint research and development programmes and a skills exchange to accelerate low carbon innovation and technology development.

Business-led initiative
While both UK and Indian governments will have a role to play in creating the right framework for low carbon economic development, this initiative aims to put business firmly in the driving seat, with one of its aims to encourage greater participation by businesses in the framing of climate change and low carbon development policy, both domestically and internationally.

"Some of the most powerful solutions to the climate change challenge will come from business," said Prime Minister David Cameron today, as he endorsed the project. "The innovation and creativity of business won’t just help us save the planet, but is expected to create millions of jobs and billions of revenue in the green goods and services market. This report sets out a clear roadmap towards further collaboration between business leaders in our two countries."

"The view from business is very much that to make these things happen they have to be business-led and business is pretty categorical that this will happen with or without government intervention," added Mark Kenber, deputy chief executive officer of the Climate Change Group.

Role of SMEs
Although the initiative is initially focused on big business and primarily on investment opportunities in India, Kenber said UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are involved in green innovation, would also have a part to play. He cited university spin-off companies as one type of SME that could benefit from the UK-India collaboration.

"The technology directory will be linked to SMEs," he said. "SMEs in both countries are mainly responsible for innovation and driving forward low carbon technologies. [The directory] will bring together innovators, entrepreneurs and venture capital to develop those low carbon technologies."

Kenber said the directory would promote new technologies as they came forward, what financing and investment existed and the business opportunities required to get involved in them.

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Businesses kick-start low carbon collaboration between UK and India
University spin-off companies such as Nexeon which is developing low carbon battery technology are the sort of SMEs that might benefit from today's UK-India low carbon business collaboration
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