Minister Alok Sharma travels to India to build climate talks momentum

Minister Alok Sharma travels to India to build climate talks momentum
Courtesy: Leon Neal / Staff | Getty Images News via Getty Images

“When it comes to climate action, India is a key partner and a global leader,” said Alok Sharma, the Cabinet minister who recently took sole charge of the UK’s presidency of the United Nations COP26 climate summit in November.

“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,” the India-born minister said during a visit to New Delhi this week.

Climate action

Sharma met senior Indian ministers, as well as leaders from business and civil society, to discuss strengthening the UK-India climate partnership and preparing for a successful COP26 summit later this year.

In his first visit to Asia as COP President, Sharma welcomed India’s significant progress on climate action and clean energy transition. He highlighted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s global leadership in setting up the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), the latter of which the UK is proud to co-chair.

India’s expertise is expected to be of great value to global discussions on a clean energy transition as part of COP preparations, the UK Foreign Office said.

Ambitious and balanced

Alex Ellis, the new UK High Commissioner to India, noted: “Alok Sharma’s visit is the latest step in protecting our planet by making COP26 a success and will further develop the UK-India climate partnership on clean and resilient development.

“Hearing from the Indian government first hand, 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.”

In his meetings with business, Sharma highlighted the huge opportunities in the low carbon economy, celebrate 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.

The minister also met with civil society including experts and young thinkers to discuss challenges and possible solutions to climate change, and to hear how they are trying to mobilise younger generations in support of climate action.

In-person visit

The Foreign Office said that after a year of virtual meetings, the in-person visit signals a step-change in momentum to COP26 preparations, and reinforces the senior minister’s ambition to run an inclusive negotiating process that incorporates the views of all countries.

Sharma’s visit to India follows those of the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, and paves 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 says it is setting a strong example on climate action, with a legally binding target to cut emissions to net zero by 2050. Between 1990 and 2018, the UK nearly halved emissions whilst growing the economy by 75 per cent, and will cut coal use in the power sector entirely by 2025.

The UK has committed to double its International Climate Finance to at least £11.6 billion over the next five years, to help developing countries to take action.

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