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Speech by Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at Green Economy Business Seminar in New Delhi, India

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Opportunities in a Green Economy?


Honourable Minister, Mr Mehta, representatives of the private sector, Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is a privilege for me to stand before such an exclusive assembly here today. It is no more than a few hours ago since I arrived to your country for the first time. Coming from a small country like Denmark – with only 5 mio. inhabitants – the difference of magnitude is indeed very significant.

India’s sheer size, your vibrant democracy, your weight in international politics and the impact that Indian business already makes on the world economy – an impact that is only bound to increase.

All this is for me a confirmation of the inevitable – that India will – and needs to - play a fundamental role in tackling climate change. This is why I met with Prime Minister Singh earlier today. I am very impressed with his vision for India in this field. And this is why I have come before you now - representatives of Indian industry that without a doubt will be the main drivers as India forges its way into a green era.

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India has played an important role in developing global knowledge of climate change. Not least thanks to brilliant scientists and communicators such as the IPCC Chairman, Dr. Pachauri, who has laid out the scientific evidence so convincingly. This morning, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Pachauri, and if anyone should still have doubts about the urgency of climate change, I recommend they call him.

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The essence of my intervention today – to you as a business community – is twofold.

Firstly I want to convey a message of urgency.

Had I come to India a year ago the message would have been a different one. At that time many where still hesitating about the real potential of green growth. And hesitations were only worsened by a seemingly unstoppable economic downturn. Today the story is all together different.

The potential of green growth is now increasingly being grasped
around the world. And the opportunities are being pursued with great fervour.

Billions of public funds throughout the world have been invested in making economic recovery a green recovery. The effects have been significant. And the private sector has been quick to respond.

In 2005 it was estimated that the world market for green technology was 1,000 billion Euros. In 2010 it is estimated at 1,500 billion. That is a growth rate of 50 percent in just five years. In the last two years, the solar energy industry has doubled worldwide.

As it turns out economic downturn has proven not to be a stumbling block – but rather a kick starter. Or in the words of India’s first Prime Minister Nehru: "Crises and deadlocks, when they occur, have at least this advantage: that they force us to think."

We must continue in this path - we must continue “to think” – and act.

But the consequence for you as market operators is also very clear: You cannot afford to wait! The race for market leadership in what is promising to be a very lucrative green marketplace has begun.

Indian business is well poised to seize those benefits. With the vast pool of brilliant entrepreneurs you have the necessary talent. And your impressive performances in solar energy have demonstrated your ability to make the best of your talent.

But no one can afford to rest on his laurels. I know this lesson coming from a country where world leader in wind energy Vestas in 2004 was facing competition from 7 Indian producers – today it is 18!

Wind, solar, biofuels and bio-gas. India clearly has all the potential of becoming one of the world’s leading exporters of green technology. You as business leaders have the power to lead such action and provide the examples, which will bring the rest of the Indian business community on board. You can be game changers for India. But the battle of tomorrow begins today.

Secondly I want to send a message of partnership. We need you – the private sector – to engage in a partnership with the public sector in order to foster those innovative solutions without which we cannot reach our target of limiting global average temperature to the 2 degree Celsius.

I have been particularly impressed by India’s plans to roll out solar power as spelled out in your national climate action plan. Reaching 100.000 MW in 2030 would be some achievement.

But getting there will require not only significant public funding. It will also require your wholehearted involvement. The international community on its side will need to accelerate international research in green technology and ensure proper dissemination.

This will be one of the key issues we will need to address in our global agreement in Copenhagen – in addition to appropriate answers to the questions of mitigation, financing, adaptation and appropriate monitoring that will also be at the heart of a global agreement. This must be our contribution to the partnership.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

That is why I hope, we will succeed in agreeing on a new international climate deal in just about ninety days. That's all the time we have left before this year’s UN Conference on Climate Change, COP15, which Denmark is honoured to host.

This is also why I was particularly encouraged by the very constructive meeting I had with Prime Minister Singh and with the Minister of Environment earlier today. I congratulated him on his government’s ambitious approach to combating climate change. It is clear to me that the Indian Government wants to see India leapfrog to a different and more sustainable growth trajectory than the developed countries.

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change will be a cornerstone in shaping India’s response to climate change.

I warmly welcome these initiatives.

Prime Minister Singh underlined to me that economic growth and poverty reduction must be the main priorities for India.

I fully agree.

We all know that access to energy is one of the basic preconditions for development – also in India where hundreds of millions of people are still left without reliable access to electricity. This needs to be addressed.

But let me stress two things:

First of all, we cannot combat poverty without protecting the climate. And we cannot protect the climate without combating poverty. Climate change worsens poverty, because the poor are more vulnerable and reliant on agriculture. And poverty endangers the climate, for example through the unsustainable use of natural resources.

Secondly, economic growth does not have to lead to a corresponding increase in energy consumption. India’s carbon emissions are already growing at a slower rate than the Indian economy. The same goes for Denmark.

To conclude: The challenge today is how to make a low carbon path profitable. We must create a transformation towards a green economy, where we reduce global warming without jeopardizing our wealth.

The companies and the countries that can answer that question, those who develop front edge innovation and reform our energy supply, will be the champions of tomorrow. And the frontrunners will be the leaders in 10-20 years.

It is my ambition that COP15 in Copenhagen will pave the way for such a transformation but your contribution, as business leaders, is critical for this to come true. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: The best way to predict your future is to create it.

I invite all of you to create a future where economic growth goes hand in hand with the more environmental approach.

Thank you.