India and UK sign civil nuclear agreement, discuss climate change

13 November 2015

India and Britain yesterday signed a civil nuclear agreement, reaffirming the importance of addressing climate change and promoting "secure, affordable and sustainable supplies of energy". The agreement was signed on the first day of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's three-day official visit to Britain.

The civil nuclear agreement is "a symbol of our mutual trust", Modi said in a joint statement with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the end of their talks in London.

The two leaders welcomed the completion of negotiations on a bilateral Civil Nuclear Co-operation Agreement and a memorandum of understanding between the UK and the Indian Department for Atomic Energy to encourage joint training and experience sharing on civil nuclear with the Indian Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said the agreements signalled "a growing relationship in this sector".

A "comprehensive package" of collaboration on energy and climate change aims to support economic growth, energy security and energy access, DECC said. The package encompasses £3.2 billion ($4.9 billion) of commercial agreements, joint research programs and initiatives to share technical, scientific, and financial and policy expertise. DECC said this will encourage the research, development and eventual deployment of clean technology, renewables, gas and nuclear power.

The two countries agreed on the need for an "ambitious and comprehensive" global agreement to tackle climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Paris Climate Conference in December, and that the agreement "should signal to investors and innovators the long term commitment of governments to clean and more sustainable economies", DECC said.

Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd said the UK and India's partnership on energy "is going from strength to strength". Rudd added: "We share world-class expertise in research and innovation. The UK's experience in green finance and technology in particular makes us well – placed to work together to promote secure, affordable and sustainable supplies of energy and address climate change."

The upcoming COP21 talks in Paris will be a "crucial moment", she said, in the fight against climate change. "I am pleased to be able to work closely with India to ensure that the deal we secure helps to keep the below 2ºC limit on global warming within reach."

During a press briefing, Cameron noted that it was Modi's first visit to the UK since taking office and the first of an Indian prime minister in almost a decade. "It's a real opportunity to open a new chapter in the relationship between our two countries," he said.

"We want UK and Indian scientists to work together to develop the low cost, low carbon energy that’s vital for the future, and that's why we're establishing a new, £10 million ($15 million) joint research collaboration into new technologies," he said. "Today, we agreed on the vital importance of securing an ambitious global deal in Paris later this year that keeps our goal of limiting global warming by 2050 to 2ºC, within reach."

Modi said the civil nuclear agreement "is a symbol of our mutual trust". He added: "The global centre for clean energy partnerships in India is one of the areas where we have agreed to cooperate, and this will strengthen safety and security in the global nuclear industry."

The Indian leader said he was pleased with the progress in cooperation between the two countries in clean energy and climate change involving their governments and the private sector. "This is an area of immense importance, and it offers enormous opportunities," he said.

Commitment on climate action

In a joint statement, Cameron and Modi reaffirmed their commitment to taking action on climate change at the domestic level. Cameron underlined the UK's commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, as set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act, meeting its carbon budgets in the most cost-effective manner. Modi highlighted India's commitment to reduce its emissions intensity by 33–35% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels and put in place 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 through nationally determined development measures and priorities.

They "recognise the importance of building trust amongst Parties to the UNFCCC and support the inclusion within the Paris Agreement of a transparency framework, reflecting the need for all Parties to track and report progress regularly of both action and support as appropriate towards achieving their efforts, which would serve to demonstrate that all Parties are implementing their respective efforts."

They noted that 159 countries have submitted intended nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement, covering over 88% of global emissions. They said they support "global stock takes, covering both action and support, periodically in order to achieve the objective of the Convention".

They recognised the need for the Paris Agreement "to give a clear signal to our citizens, businesses and investors on the long-term direction of travel to foster innovation and research and development to make clean energy more affordable".

They emphasised the importance of climate finance and of developed countries honouring their commitment to mobilise jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources, both public and private, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation.

"The UK and India recognised the crucial role of predictable and enhanced public and private climate finance, to support mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries. They also recognised the role of climate finance in helping the deployment and development of environmentally sound technologies and research and development addressing barriers to bring about a shift in investment to help achieve the objective of the Convention," according to the joint statement.

The UK supports India's National and State Action Plans for Climate Change, which they said will "help reduce the climate risks to India’s highly vulnerable population, strengthen adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change and generate lessons from which other countries can learn".

They recognised the importance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in providing a comprehensive assessment of climate change based on available science. They highlighted the importance of an increased focus on solutions to climate change and agreed to work together to support the Indian and UK co-chairs of IPCC Working Group III as they lead the work on assessing options for mitigating climate change in the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Cycle.

They agreed their ministers should meet for regular summits "to share views and explore opportunities for bilateral cooperation on strategic priorities as well as push forward collaboration across the breadth of the energy partnership, including joint collaboration on research, development, demonstration and eventual deployment of clean technology and renewables, gas and nuclear".

They welcomed the signing of an MOU to strengthen energy cooperation between the two countries building on existing successes and promoting closer future collaboration in areas such as electricity market reform, energy efficiency, offshore wind, solar power, smart grids, energy storage, and off-grid renewable energy services. They also welcomed the extension of the collaboration between the UK and India on strategic energy planning.

They announced £10 million ($15 million) of joint funding from the Research Council UK and Indian Department of Science and Technology for a new Virtual Joint Centre on clean energy, bringing the total value of the Indo-UK clean energy research program to £60 million ($91 million).

Cameron also announced the UK Climate Investment venture with the Green Investment Bank, which will invest up to a total of £200 million ($304 million) of UK climate finance in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in India and Africa.

In addition Cameron announced UK funding for the India Innovation Lab for Green Finance, an independent Indian initiative endorsed by the Government of India, to bring together the private and public sectors to find innovative solutions to the barriers to clean energy finance in India.

There will also be £10 million ($15 million) five-year program of Technical Assistance to support national and state-level reforms in India’s power sector and a new Chevening Fellowship Scheme for clean energy and climate change.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News