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. India to stand up to Brown on climate change

by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Jan 19, 2008
India will put aside differences with Britain over cutting carbon emissions to pursue closer ties in trade, education and counter-terrorism during a state visit by Prime Minister Gordon Brown starting Sunday, officials said.

Brown arrives in New Delhi from China for a two-day visit -- his first official trip to the region since moving into Downing Street last year.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said the British premier's talks with Indian leaders would cover the "entire spectrum of bilateral ties."

"A strong bilateral relationship is of priority for both countries, for economic and commercial, historical and foreign policy reasons and the presence of a large community of Indian origin in Britain," Sarna said.

But he warned that New Delhi had its own views on global warming -- a subject Brown has repeatedly promised to raise with his Indian host Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"India's emissions are far lower than many other countries," Sarna said referring to New Delhi's figure of four percent of the global carbon output.

"We want progress (on climate change) to be made but it has to be in line with our own development priorities."

Brown has said he wants to press New Delhi and Beijing to sign up to a post-Kyoto Protocol from 2012 with binding emissions cuts, something they are not keen on because they fear it will dampen economic growth.

India and China signed and ratified Kyoto, but are not included in targeted emission cuts.

In an interview with the Indian weekly Outlook magazine Brown urged India to work closely with Britain to combat climate change.

"Climate change is a shared dilemma and the risks of inaction are great. We must act now. And act together," Brown was quoted saying.

"As India's population and economy grow, its demand for energy will increase and Britain is committed to working closely with India in a way which contributes as little carbon as possible to the atmosphere."

But while an emissions deal remains an area of disagreement, "there are many, many areas of convergence that both sides will build on," said a senior Indian foreign ministry official who asked not to be named.

Britain's high commissioner (ambassador) to India, Richard Stagg, put trade top of the agenda.

"Business has been one of the key drivers of the bilateral relations," he told reporters Friday.

Britain is India's fourth-largest global trading partner accounting for 3.56 percent of India's foreign trade in 2006-2007. India has emerged as the second-largest investor in Britain, with investments totalling over one billion pounds (1.9 billion dollars) in the last year alone, according to Indian figures.

Accompanying Brown on his India visit will be Virgin group chief Richard Branson and telecom giant Vodafone's boss Arun Sarin.

Economic analyst Paranjoy Guha Thakurta said the global interest in the blistering economic growths recorded by India and neighbouring China was natural given fears the US economy is slipping into recession.

"India and China account for 40 percent of the world's population. Many countries including Britain have realised that the economic power balance has shifted and the planet's economic future depends on these two countries," he said.

Besides trade, India and Britain will also focus on higher education with an accord to be signed on developing skills in Indian universities.

Brown is set to announce a British Council-run programme to recruit "master trainers" to train 750,000 English teachers in India over the next five years as part of a plan to make English the world's "language of choice".

London was also keen to implement development projects with New Delhi in Africa, Stagg said.

On the political front, India and Britain would exchange views on Pakistan, Nepal and military-ruled Myanmar where London was looking for a speedier transition to democracy, Stagg added.

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German industry says EU pollution plan threatens a million jobs
Frankfurt (AFP) Jan 18, 2008
German industrialists estimate that one million jobs are threatened in Germany by European Union plans to fight global warming, a sector leader said Friday in an interview.

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