Global climate urgency is rising. EU and India need to work together - Hindustan Times
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Global climate urgency is rising. EU and India need to work together

ByFrans Timmermans
May 24, 2023 07:10 PM IST

So let us roll up our sleeves and show the world that the fight for climate ambition is also a fight for a healthy, green and prosperous future for all

As we head into the summer, the impact of the climate crisis is being felt across the world: Monster storms, flash floods, extreme droughts, failed harvests, or scorching heat are becoming the new normal. India and the European Union (EU) have experienced their share of climate disasters: Extreme heat, droughts and floods. Last year, India experienced a searing heatwave, with its hottest April in 122 years and its hottest March ever on record. Similarly, several European countries experienced the worst drought in centuries, with low water levels threatening food production, energy generation and inland navigation.

In the global fight against the climate crisis, I see signs of India’s readiness to lead. (Shutterstock) PREMIUM
In the global fight against the climate crisis, I see signs of India’s readiness to lead. (Shutterstock)

In the global fight against the climate crisis, I see signs of India’s readiness to lead. When Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi announced at COP26 that India would become climate-neutral by 2070, it was this announcement that, for the first time, offered the world a shot at staying below 2 degrees Celsius. Similarly, India’s call at COP27 to phase down all fossil fuels brought new impetus to the discussions. We will need to continue that push at COP28 and link it to a target for renewable energy (RE) deployment. The renewable investment done in India is impressive. India’s G20 presidency is marked by a clear steer towards a green and resilient future. As one of the world’s biggest emitters in absolute terms, India’s ambition carries a lot of weight. However, how you implement is key. This starts with underpinning the targets with equally ambitious policies that help phase down fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy.

I look forward to discussing India’s transition and learning about the plans for a carbon credit trading scheme, adding 500 gigawatts of renewable capacity by 2030, reaching a green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT, and massively increasing the manufacturing capacity of advanced batteries for energy storage. The EU is ready to work with India, learn from best practices and share our lessons from, for example, emissions trading.

As one of the world’s biggest emitters ourselves, the EU is working to become climate-neutral by 2050. By 2030, we will reduce at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990. Our targets are set into law, and we are updating our policy framework to make sure we deliver the emissions reductions fast. In parallel, we aim to plant three billion new trees by 2030, and European lawmakers are negotiating measures to reduce the use of chemical pesticides and restore nature.

But we need global action. There are many opportunities for India and the EU to work together more closely. We are partners who value open global trade, multilateral cooperation and international law. We also know how important it is to ensure a fair and inclusive green transition, where we reduce inequality and leave nobody behind.

The EU is working with India on mitigation and adaptation through the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. Our bilateral cooperation on energy efficiency, renewable energy and green hydrogen can be further strengthened and extended to carbon pricing or reducing methane emissions. The EU-India Trade and Technology Council offers another platform to work together, as our cooperation on trade, trusted technology, and security can also benefit our mutual green transition.

The urgency to act against the climate and biodiversity crisis is growing every day. For more than two centuries, carbon has been at the centre of the economy and global development. Decarbonising in a little more than two decades will require a massive overhaul of our growth paradigm. But the page on the fossil fuel economy is turning, and investment in renewables is shooting up. A global hydrogen economy is developing, and India, with its potential for solar and wind and strategic location in the Indian Ocean, is well-placed to benefit from this.

So let us roll up our sleeves and show the world that the fight for climate ambition is also a fight for a healthy, green and prosperous future for all. The EU is eager to work together with India, bilaterally, in the G20 and at COP28, to make this a reality.

Frans Timmermans is European Commission executive vice-president for the European Green Deal

The views expressed are personal

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