Martin Lidegaard, Chairman of the Danish Parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee, writes about the Committee’s visit to India in the first week of March.
Below is translated from the article in Danish media ‘Altinget’: https://www.altinget.dk/artikel/martin-lidegaard-uden-indien-har-vi-ingen-baeredygtig-fremtid
If Denmark is to make an impact on the climate on a global level, we have to focus more on India, writes Martin Lidegaard.
Denmark has come a long way in the green transition, and much suggests that we will move further this spring. It is a necessary development which finally has accelerated after the climate election in June last year.
But if Denmark will make a difference for the climate, for the biodiversity and for the world’s poorest, it is equally necessary that we look beyond the country’s borders and link our most important experiences and technologies to those parts of the world where it really matters. This, we are already doing with great luck in China, South Africa, Mexico and many other places.
If we are to succeed in sustainable development, India too is inevitable. It can be expressed very clearly: It is simply not possible to reach the necessary goals within climate and sustainability without India.
This was confirmed when Foreign Policy Committee last week visited the large country.
A fifth of the global population lives in India today. Both its population and economy grow dramatically and alongside China and the rest of Asia, India will within a few years make up for some 70 percent of the world population and 60 percent of the world economy.
If that growth is not made sustainable, we might as well give up hope for coping with global warming and creating a more equal and peaceful world.
The good news is that India wants sustainable development and in many areas is an obvious partner for Denmark. This is especially due to three circumstances.
India and Denmark need each other. Denmark is leading in the development of green technologies – in return, India has a huge supply of a well-educated and skillful workforce, not least engineers, which today all larger Danish companies are already employing domestically and internationally.
In Denmark alone, there is estimated to be around 30,000 Indian employees. Thereby many personal and commercial ties have already been established between the two countries. But the potential is even greater.
India and Denmark can both be great winners of enhanced collaboration.
What Denmark has in green specialization, India has in the potential for the scale of green solutions, which is something that matters for the world’s green transition.
Already the expansion of coal plants in India is reduced markedly and construction of new ones has not been allowed the last five years.
In return, the wind and sun energy are expanding rapidly. Sustainable energy sources have simply become the cheapest and in India, they are built without subsidies.
But if India is to reach 100 percent of sustainable energy within a few decades – and not just the present 40 percent goal for 2030 – it both requires more capital, more investments and an adjustment of the energy system itself.
Denmark really has something to offer within all these areas and is already contributing with experts and counselling, and Danish companies and investors are now really looking towards the Indian market.
But we are not at all where we could be. The next obvious step is the signing of a green strategic partnership between India and Denmark, which will make Denmark the leading partner in this field.
The possibility is there if we act now and both Denmark and India have incredibly much to gain in a partnership – both for the climate and the economy.
Finally, India is the world’s greatest democracy with a wish to form a rule-based and multilateral world order – like Denmark.
Here too Denmark has a great interest in a strengthened partnership. We need strong alliances in the new multipolar world order in which India will be one of the poles.
If the world’s poverty is to be fought, again India cannot be bypassed: It is said today that more people live below the poverty line in India than in the whole of Africa south of Sahara.
It is not just green sustainability goals which make India relevant. It is also social and economic goals.
A lot has happened in the last couple of years. Among other things, all villages now have access to electricity and prime minister Narendra Modi has declared it a goal to secure a better life for much more of India’s population by providing access to power, water, education and health for all.
India is a country moving forward but not all in the development is rosy. The Hindu nationalistic government, led by the popular Modi, is praised for its social efforts but critiqued for its advance in Kashmir and towards the country’s Muslim population, which has culminated in bloody riots lately.
But this is only another argument for betting on a stronger partnership with India which also will pave the way for critical dialogue on these areas.
India is still a living democracy with room for thought and speech and where opinions are put forward and where western politicians can discuss everything with our Indian colleagues as we have just experienced on our trip.
India is soon the world’s biggest country – too big to fail.
Martin Lidegaard (born 1966) is a member of parliament for Danish Social Liberal Party and chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee. He is a former foreign minister and minister for climate, energy and buildings. Further, Lidegaard was the co-founder and chairman of the green think tank Concito. The commentary is only an expression of the writer’s own opinion.