Ukraine crisis, climate change drives Europe’s renewable energy focus: EU chief

Published on Apr 24, 2022 10:25 PM IST
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine a stark reminder that Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels is not sustainable.
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said India’s energy use doubled in the past two decades and shows the urgency for our transformation to clean and sustainable ways of doing business (PTI)
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said India’s energy use doubled in the past two decades and shows the urgency for our transformation to clean and sustainable ways of doing business (PTI)

NEW DELHI: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday listed climate change and the Ukraine crisis as factors driving Europe’s quest for renewable energy, a field in which the European Union (EU) and India need to step up their cooperation.

On the first day of her two-day visit to India, Ursula von der Leyen interacted with youngsters at the TERI Gram campus in Haryana, which is devoted to developing green technologies, and addressed a gathering at the headquarters of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which was jointly launched by India and France.

During her address at ISA, von der Leyen noted that Europe wants to be climate neutral by 2050 and India by 2070. India has also committed to generating half its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030 and Europe has set similar goals, and both sides believe solar energy will play a decisive role in these efforts.

She also noted India’s energy use doubled in the past two decades and will continue to grow, reflecting that the country’s economy is doing well. “But it also, of course, shows the urgency for our transformation to clean and sustainable ways of doing business and using that energy,” she said.

The European Commission President said while the month of March 2022 was the hottest in 122 years, the EU too is experiencing droughts, deadly flooding, wildfires and hurricanes in regions “where we never ever had these extreme weather phenomena”.

Also Read: If Russia’s attack is unchallenged, implications for Indo-Pacific also, says EU chief

At the same time, she said, a second reason for switching to “home-grown clean energies” is the war that “Russia has unleashed against Ukraine”.

“For us Europeans, it is a stark reminder that our dependency on Russian fossil fuels is not sustainable. Because how can you do business with someone who openly threatens Europe and wages war against one of your closest neighbours,” she added.

In this context, the EU’s transition to renewable energy is good for the environment and a “strategic investment in security”, she said.

Also Read: Europe facing unprovoked attack by Russia against Ukraine, says Ursula von der Leyen

“Because every kilowatt-hour of electricity we generate from solar, wind, hydropower or biomass reduces our dependency on fossil fuels in general. This is why the European Commission will present next month a new solar strategy of the EU, as part of REPowerEU,” she said.

Noting that India and the EU are on the same path, she said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced India should be energy independent before it celebrates 100 years of its independence in 2047.

“So it is in our common interest that this independence of fossil fuel that comes from abroad is a transformation into renewable and clean energy,” von der Leyen said.

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