Two parliamentary democracies with a long and deeply intertwined history, India and the UK nevertheless represent two very different sides in the climate and development debate: one a wealthy, largely post-industrial society with a legacy of historical carbon but declining emissions in the present; the other a rapidly growing economy whose vast population is both hungry for energy-intensive prosperity, yet especially vulnerable to the climate impacts that a world of unconstrained carbon would bring.
Yet both countries have much to gain from working together on issues of climate, energy, and development, and it was to encourage deeper bilateral ties in these areas that the Climate Parliament and the British High Commission in New Delhi co-organised a week-long trip to London for a high-level delegation of Indian MPs and state legislators. The ten parliamentarians - all of whom are members of Climate Parliament chapters in their various legislatures - came to meet their UK counterparts, as well as experts, analysts, academics, and government officials, for a series of briefings and discussions designed to forge better cooperation and mutual understanding on these key topics.
During their trip, the Indian delegation met with an impressive array of senior figures from the forefront of British climate science, development economics, and domestic politics. These included Lord Bourne, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change; Lord Deben, the chair of the UK Committee on Climate Change and former Environment Minister; Baroness Worthington, one of the principle authors of Britain's world-leading Climate Change Act of 2008; Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, a member of the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change; Peter Betts, the UK's long-serving chief negotiator at the UNFCCC climate talks and one of the key figures at the upcoming Paris COP; Jeremy Oppenheimer, programme director of the New Climate Economy initiative; and Sir Brian Hoskins, founding President of the Grantham Institute and a leading figure in climate science.
The meetings covered a broad range of topics, from clean energy investment to the stumbling blocks surrounding the international climate negotiations, and encouraged frank, honest and productive dialogue on these vital issues. The MPs also visited a renewable energy development outside Bristol for a day-long site visit, where they were able to meet with project developers and representatives of the local council in order to discuss community energy issues and public attitudes to renewables with those working at the sharp edge of the UK's clean energy transition.
One lesson emerged clearly from the week's discussions: the serious energy, climate, and developmental challenges in the coming decades can only be solved by the countries of the world making a concerted, determined effort to overcome disparities in outlook and work together to face down potentially devastating threats to their mutual prosperity. No country can go it alone, and both bi- and multi-lateral dialogue have never been more essential. In this sense, the Climate Parliament - BHC mission to London was a resounding success, and we look forward to working together again in the near future to encourage further dialogue and cooperation.