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U.K. keen on climate change retardation project in Tamil Nadu

By Our Special Correspondent



Mark Runacres, U.K. Deputy High Commissioner to India, speaking at a roundtable at the Centre for Security Analysis in Chennai on Thursday. — Photo: K. V. Srinivasan

CHENNAI, DEC. 2. The United Kingdom is looking for partnerships in Tamil Nadu to aid in and develop projects for combating climate change.

A U.K. team, led by the Deputy High Commissioner to India, Mark Runacres, is here after discussing such projects in Andhra Pradesh.

"We have a dialogue on with the Indian Government. We are looking at cooperating with the State Governments," he said. The States had more to do with such projects, right from sanction to implementation. In particular, development of renewable energy was of great interest and so was cultivation of the bio-diesel yielding jatropha.

Participating in a roundtable at the Centre for Security Analysis here, Mr. Runacres said the U.K. had set up a global opportunities fund, part of which helped projects that retarded climate change. Of five such projects in India, one was in Andhra Pradesh. "We are quite keen to see such a project in Tamil Nadu."

Also, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, set up after the Johannesburg sustainable development summit, offered to every member access to the best practices of all others. This would benefit the State to a great extent, he said.

A recent U.K.-India study concluded that a slight rise in sea levels would have a devastating impact on Indian agriculture, a large part of which was based in coastal areas.

Also, the incidence of malaria, which India fought so hard for so long to control, would increase. Warm atmosphere would help in quicker reproduction of mosquitoes.

Asked whether his Government would insist on developing countries taking more responsibilities at the forthcoming climate change conference (tenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), Mr. Runacres said everyone should take responsibility. Otherwise, the efforts made by the developed world might be undone. Unless all the key players acted, climate change could not be retarded. India, China and Brazil were the key players in the developing world.

On the refusal by the United States to ratify the Kyoto Protocol (which insisted that developed countries together bring down the emission of six major greenhouse gases to lower than the 1990 levels by 2012), he said this was a challenge. But it was heartening that some States in the U.S. were making a reduction on their own. "And these are not necessarily Democrat-ruled States," he said.

Next year would be crucial to climate change negotiations as the Kyoto Protocol, now ratified by 55 nations accounting for more than 55 per cent of the emissions (a criterion for the Protocol to come into force), comes into force from February 16, 2005.

Frank ties

Mr. Runacres said a new level of frankness marked the U.K.-India ties. The key trigger to the turnaround in ties was economic growth in both countries.

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