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Kolkata project to drive green growth in India

University of Leeds researchers will take part in a major programme to spur investment in environmentally-friendly development in Kolkata, one of the world’s largest metropolises.

A University of Leeds team led by Professor Andy Gouldson from the Faculty of Earth and Environment will work with experts from Jadavpur University in Kolkata, The Centre for Low Carbon Futures and the University of York to identify projects suitable to unlock large flows of investment into green growth and low-carbon development in the Indian city's economy.

Kolkata is the first Asian city to be studied in the 10 Climate Smart Cities programme developed by the Centre for Low Carbon Futures, an interdisciplinary research group formed by five research intensive universities in the UK. The programme is aimed at creating a global network of cities representing different climates and states of development that reflect different approaches to green growth and different concerns relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The researchers will work with local government and industry in Kolkata, with support from the British Deputy High Commission, to develop the social and economic case for large-scale investment in the city’s green growth.  The team aims to report in May 2013.

Professor Gouldson said: "A lack of evidence on the best paths to follow and the best options to adopt can slow the speed of the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy. Uncertainty on the vast array of pathways and options available can make climate-compatible development hard to pursue at the city scale."

He added: "Our research will provide the city authorities of Kolkata with an evidence base that can be used to promote green growth and climate compatible development that stimulates the local economy, creates jobs and helps to tackle poverty, while at the same time slashing energy bills and carbon footprints."

An initial case study focused on Leeds and led by Professor Gouldson found that spending on identifying green growth opportunities can pay for itself in four years. The study, titled "The Economics of Low Carbon Cities," reported that the effort boosted the city economy, creating new jobs and tackling poverty, and that an investment of just 1 percent of GDP every year for ten years in commercially attractive resource efficiency measures would reduce Leeds’ energy bill by 1.6% of GDP. That evidence base is now being used to stimulate major investment.

Jon Price, Director of the Centre for Low Carbon Futures, said: "Our global impact programme provides a city–scale view that can better inform city authorities how to respond to climate change. We developed the 10 Climate Smart Cities initiative in order to assist cities with the complex task of implementing policies on green growth and climate change at a local level, and to help them unlock the finance required for capital projects."

He continued: "Our programme provides both a detailed assessment of the current trends on energy and resource efficiency and provides prioritised actions with a clearly defined business and social case for investment. These results can then assist city authorities to commence actions and utilise the academically robust findings to secure investment for funding capital projects from development banks, national governments and intergovernmental agencies."

He added: "Cities are especially relevant this week as the world meets at the annual climate talks in Doha, as it is becoming clearer that, as cities have more than 50 percent of the global population, deliver more than 50 percent of GDP worldwide and are responsible for more than 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, developing an action plans for cities, rather than continuing to wait for international agreements or for national commitments is becoming more relevant each day."

The Kolkata Metropolitan Area is one of the world’s largest metropolises and faces a rapid increase in its energy needs. It is also a low-lying, coastal city and particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels storm surges and heat stress.

The Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University Prof. Souvik Bhattacharyya, welcomed the opportunity to work with the University of Leeds through the Centre for Low Carbon Futures.

"The 10 Climate Smart Cities programme is exactly the type of world-class international research collaboration that can strengthen the contribution of science to policy and make a real difference to our city by identifying routes to green growth," he said.

Professor Joyashree Roy will lead the Jadavpur University research team.

Sanjay Wadvani, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Deputy High Commissioner for Eastern India, said: "I’m excited that the project—which will be a path-breaking study to help identify policies for low carbon development in Kolkata—will help the relevant authorities attract investment and foster growth in this great city. The British Deputy High Commission fully supports this unique initiative and hopes that, together with other actions being taken in the city, it will help bring about sustainable and equitable growth for the people of Kolkata." 

Further information:

Contact: Esther Harward, Press Officer, University of Leeds; phone: +44-113 343 4196; email: e.harward@leeds.ac.uk

Sayantan Sarkar, Project-Post Doctoral Fellow, Global Change Programme, Jadavpur University; phone: +91-8017448340; email: sayantan101@gmail.com

Sarah Schepers, Communications Manager, Centre for Low Carbon Futures; phone: +44-7758 497966; email: sarah.schepers@lowcarbonfutures.org

Mainak De, British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata; email: mainak.de@fco.gov.uk