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Mark Kenber: This is a pivotal moment for the climate and exciting times for The Climate Group in India

Date
03 July 2014
Mark Kenber: This is a pivotal moment for the climate and exciting times for The Climate Group in India

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, writes about the importance of our work in India through our New Delhi office, which is now transitioning under the new Director, Krishnan Pallassana.

I am excited to be writing to you at a pivotal moment for the climate and exciting times for The Climate Group in India.

In just eighteen months, world leaders will convene in Paris to hammer out what we hope will be an ambitious new agreement to address the challenges of global climate change. If successful, this agreement will establish an equitable and dynamic framework for collaboration between governments – national, regional and local – the private sector and civil society, to cut global warming pollution and respond to the threats of unmitigated climate change.

The recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlight just how urgent these threats are. The science of climate change is more certain than ever and the impacts of global warming – many of which we did not expect to see for several decades – are already being felt by millions around the world.

Indeed we are now observing some of the major tipping points, such as the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet and changes in monsoon patterns, predicted by climate models. And nowhere is this truer than in India, where last year floods devastated northern parts of the country while western India faced its worst drought in 50 years.

And yet, while climate change undoubtedly presents huge risks to our wellbeing and social harmony, its solutions also offer a huge opportunity to strengthen our economies and enhance livelihoods.

Opportunity

This is not about using scarce resources that could be spent on improving the lives of the many millions who still lack access to food, education, shelter, healthcare and a steady source of income.

Instead, it is about identifying areas – and there are many of them – where climate protection and economic development not only go hand-in-hand but are mutually reinforcing.

A new report published last week by the World Bank – Climate Smart Development: Adding up the benefits of actions that help build prosperity, end poverty and combat climate change - illustrates this. For example, it suggests that large-scale deployment of Bus Rapid Transit systems in Indian cities could generate billions of dollars in economic benefits, save over 30,000 lives from avoided traffic accidents and reduced air pollution, and create more than 100,000 new jobs - while also reducing global CO2 emissions.

Similar multiple benefits from policies and projects that put development first but also reduce emissions can be obtained from industrial energy efficiency, efficient lighting, renewable energy, clean cook stoves, waste management and smart agriculture.

Innovation

And international low carbon development – as shown in our report India’s Clean Revolution – is also an opportunity for many of India’s world-class businesses in manufacturing, IT and financial services to expand exports and capture new markets.

Helping businesses, governments and communities reap these benefits is at the heart of the work of The Climate Group. And, with our new Director – Krishnan Pallassana – and his highly motivated and experienced team of professionals, we will be looking to work with you to make these ideas a reality.

The LED street lighting projects we have supported in cities across the country have demonstrated that improved lighting reduces accidents, improves the sales of stallholders, saves energy, and reduces costs for municipal governments while also cutting carbon pollution.

The challenge now, one that we are wholeheartedly focused on, is to marshal the resources of domestic and international financial institutions to take these experiences to scale.

Leadership

Similarly, our Bijli program work on clean energy and efficient lighting in rural areas is demonstrating the massive development opportunities – in improved health, education and income generation opportunities – that low carbon technologies can bring.

Again the challenge that we will be working on, will be to replicate the successful experiences that we and many others created, so that the millions still without access to reliable energy can also benefit, both in rural and urban areas.

If one stops to consider the disruption caused by the 2012 brownouts – the amount of hard-earned foreign exchange that is spent on importing fossil fuels and the air pollution caused by burning them – tapping into India’s huge renewable energy resources makes tremendous economic sense.

We look forward to forging new partnerships with business and government leaders in India, as well as strengthening existing ones, to nurture and grow India’s Clean Revolution.

Finally, let me take the opportunity to ask you to join us, in person or online, at Climate Week NYC 2014 in September. Taking place the same week as the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit, we are thrilled to be hosting many of the world’s leaders at our own sessions, hosted jointly with CDP and our other We Mean Business partners, and the many events that make up the affiliate program.

Please visit ClimateWeekNYC.org to see the many exciting ways you can join in.

By Mark Kenber, June 2014

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