UK-Indian collaboration could encourage low-carbon growth

British and Indian business leaders have called for closer ties to help develop technology that will encourage low-carbon economic growth.

A report from the UK-India Business Leaders Climate Group (BLCG), led by former Marks and Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose, set out ways the two countries could collaborate to create business opportunities while cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

The 16-strong group, which includes the chief executive officers of Rolls Royce, National Grid and the Nuclear Industry Association, identified water, waste management, clean energy, urban design, buildings and transportation as areas with the most potential.

‘Technology development, transfer and deployment emerge as key elements of co-operation that will unlock these opportunities,’ the report said.

‘India offers a strong science and engineering educational base fuelled by its large pool of low-cost, but highly skilled and educated labour. As a mature economy, the UK brings experience, access to up-to-date technologies and financing.’

Localised power generation, specifically from methane biogas, was highlighted as a particular area where businesses and the wider population could benefit from improved technology.

The report made five key proposals, including the creation of joint research and development programmes and skills exchanges, and the reform of regulation and intellectual property law to support the development of technology.

It suggested establishing a body of leading universities and companies to define and oversee the delivery of low-carbon technology research programmes, and creating a prestigious fellowship exchange programme between universities in both countries.

‘Technology transfer has been slow [in India] due to the absence of policies to promote investment in innovation and technology development, lack of technology commercialisation models and slow adoption and diffusion across all stakeholders,’ the report said.

The group’s immediate recommendations included using British expertise in raising capital to encourage public-private investment in low-carbon projects in India.

Specifically, the business leaders called for the creation of an online Clean Technology Development Directory of early-stage Indian technologies to provide relevant data to prospective UK investors.

Prime minister David Cameron welcomed the report. ‘Some of the most powerful solutions to the climate-change challenge will come from business,’ he said.

‘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.’