It is shocking to read that only apparently 32 per cent of Indians profess to know something about climate change, says Ansgar Sickert, Managing Director of Fraport India and Council Member of the European Business Group (EBG) in India. Contrast this with ‘75 per cent in Brazil, 59 per cent in China, and 94 per cent in the US,’ he adds, during a recent pre-Budget email interaction with Business Line.
To raise the profile of the issue, the EBG jointly with EBTC (European Business and Technology Centre) is organising an interactive meeting on climate change later this month in New Delhi.
Excerpts from the interview.
Is the European Business Group looking for any specific ‘green’ push from the Budget 2010?
We do think that environmental issues are a serious concern and must be taken up in the Budget. Looking at China with its serious air, soil and water pollution issues and their impact on the quality of life and the health of the nation is a clear warning of how rapid development should not be managed.
Generation of sustainable energy, sewage and waste treatment, clean recycling, energy saving measures, water preservation and harvesting schemes are just some of the urgently required concerns the Budget should address. But again, without an opening of public procurement the most well-meaning schemes will have limited effect.
What are the key ‘green’ initiatives lined up by European enterprises in India, for the year?
The EBG as an industry association represents companies of all shapes, sizes and sectors from highly specialised SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to the large multinationals such as Deutsche Bank, Fraport, Alstom, Nokia, Alcatel and others.
Europe has traditionally been very strong on “green” issues. In Germany the Green Party entered parliament in the 1980s and has been in government both at state and federal level. Hence, awareness and importance of environmental issues are strong in Europe and this has found expression in strict environmental legislation.
As a result European companies are leading in green technologies, water preservation, waste recycling, sustainable energy, bio-fuels and the like. These companies have been contributing their know-how, intellectual property and technologies for the last few years and are determined to help India achieve its objectives under the Copenhagen provisions.
With its rapid economic and population growth – and all the infrastructure still to be built in India – the country has a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the latest processes and technologies to reduce not just carbon emissions and other air or waterborne pollutants but also use other critical resources such as fresh water, fossil fuels, forests in a much more economical and hence sustainable manner.
Where water supply is concerned, for instance, we know that between 30 per cent and 70 per cent of the precious liquid is lost through leakages and theft. Again many European companies active in India have the global expertise and technologies to address such issues.
Would you like to mention some of the successful measures already taken up by European businesses here?
I can really only speak for my company here as I am not authorised to do so for others. Fraport as a 10 per cent shareholder in Delhi International Airport Private Ltd. (DIAL) is one of the leading airports operators in the field of environmental management. We are not only listed on various sustainability indexes such as the Dow Jones STOXX 600 Index, FTSE4Good Index or the SAM Sustainability Yearbook but we are also certified under the most stringent EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) regime.
With this strong focus on environmental standards and management we have been able to successfully guide and advise DIAL to become ISO 14001 certified in 2008. We have furthermore provided advice on issues such as bird strike avoidance, noise monitoring etc., all areas where we have a strong track record.
On the ‘green’ technology front, are we going to see newer entrants to India from Europe?
As pointed out earlier, Europe is leading both on the environment policy front and has leading edge technologies. The interest from European companies in India is significant and we can see that many of them are seriously considering a market entry over the next 12 to 24 months.
What kind of technologies they will bring remains to be seen as in many instances their customers would be local, state or central government. Unfortunately, access to public procurement still remains a challenging area and is part of the India-EU free trade negotiations that are currently under way. But we certainly hope for a significant opening up of public procurement to European companies as otherwise the flows of IP and technologies can be expected to remain much more modest.
Companies that have expressed their intention to invest in the Indian market in green energy include Nemesis Creative Solutions, and Silesian University of Technology.