Will boost clean energy ties with India: EU chief

Updated on Apr 25, 2022 06:05 AM IST

During her address at ISA, Von der Leyen noted that Europe wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and India by 2070.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. (Reuters File Photo)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. (Reuters File Photo)
By, 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 she said the European Union (EU) and India need to step up their cooperation.

On the first day of her two-day visit to India, 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 carbon 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 said another reason for switching to “home-grown clean energies” is the war that “Russia has unleashed against Ukraine”. She added, “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?”

To be sure, imports from Russia account for a tiny fraction of India’s energy basket.

The EU’s transition to renewable energy is good for the environment and a “strategic investment in security”, Von der Leyen said. She added, “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 also noted India’s energy use had 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.

Von der Leyen 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”.

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.

While the EU-India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership was adopted in 2016, the two sides can do more to improve the situation. “We need to step up our cooperation. We can learn from each other how to finance, promote and deploy solar energy. How to secure global supply chains – this is a big topic since the pandemic... and the material, of course, needed for solar panels,” she said.

Earlier, at TERI Gram, Von der Leyen underscored the need to join forces to combat climate change and to create a green and sustainable future. The young should raise their voice for climate action, she said.

“Young people have fully understood the urgency of the climate crisis. And they are doing something about it. From living more sustainable lifestyles to making their voices heard on the street and advocating for greener policies, young people are at the heart of the solution,” she added.

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