File photo Photograph:( Reuters )
In the run up to the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the global ‘Climate Action Summit’ on Saturday (December 12), parliamentarians and climate change experts from India and the Europe came together on a common platform to discuss the mutual cooperation.
India and Europe have decided to fight climate change together. To this end, lawmakers and experts from both regions have begun discussing solutions for the climate crisis.
In the run up to the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the global ‘Climate Action Summit’ on Saturday (December 12), parliamentarians and climate change experts from India and the Europe came together on a common platform to discuss the mutual cooperation and brainstorm on avenues for working together to tackle climate change this week in a webinar organised by UK based think tank Europe Asia Foundation Limited (EAFL).
EAFL is a UK-based organisation that provides a platform that brings together democracies of Europe and Asia.
The webinar on climate change was a part of the ‘India Talks’ series initiative of the EAFL. The panelists included MEP Bas Eickhout, Rajya Sabha MP MJ Akbar, and India’s former Ambassador to EU Manjeev Puri, and European Policy Centre’s Senior Policy Analyst Annika Hedberg. Former German Environment Minister and MEP Jo Leinen chaired and moderated the event while the Director of the Europe Asia Foundation Limited and former MEP Neena Gill hosted the event.
MJ Akbar highlighted the possibilities of cooperation in green energy through International Solar Alliance - an ambitious project of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He then argued, "While solar energy on paper is cheaper, however, unless the battery storage problem isn’t sorted out, it can’t be a fully dependable initiative. We are working fast to sort this out. We will have to provide a better life for people.
"Nations that have used coal extensively and have contributed hugely to the crisis cannot give us sermons and lectures. There is a commitment that has been made. 100 billion dollars is a term that has been mentioned. I don’t know how many of these dollars have reached developing countries. If we have not learned anything from this year, then our future is definitely pessimistic."
He further said that India and Europe can take a shared approach, adding, "no issues if all the world does not come together. India and Europe are massive and huge powers and can do a lot together."
Putting forward his expectations from COP-26 to be held at Glasgow, Akbar said, "I would like to reiterate the word of Elliott - 'The world will not end with a bang, but it might be through a whimper.' We need to communicate to people that if the world would end, it might not be due to murder, but due to suicide."
MEP Bas Eickhout opined that in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, "we all were wondering how it is going to change public perceptions. As far as the EU is concerned, the first reactions of governments were quite reactive and nationalistic. Especially during the first wave."
He added, "A green recovery is central as a part of that investment programme. An efficient formulation, intention, and direction of the European investment programme would help in investing in a more resilient economy, which is ready for the next crisis – that is the climate crisis." He also reiterated the importance of LULUCF, earlier mentioned by Manjeev Puri.
About his expectations from the upcoming COP-26 meeting, Eickhout said, “One of the major objectives of the Paris meeting was to review the progress every five years. However, the Emission Report that has been just now published has reflected that the world is not moving forward to tackle the issue at all. The five-years review should have been there. We now really have to look towards ourselves. Europe needs to have its own house in order. The US will come forward with their new plan back in play. The big question is what the other countries are going to do?”
Ambassador Manjeev Puri highlighted that it is very important to reaffirm that India and the EU have put climate change on their agenda very-very early.
He mentioned the report on ‘Climate Change Performance Index’, released on December 7 -- which highlighted that India is amongst the top ten best performers in climate change.
China was 33rd and the US was unfortunately near the bottom in the list.
Throwing light on India’s achievements in the field of solar energy, he said solar power has become cheaper in India than coal generated electricity in the day. This one fundamental change has propelled solar power change in India and there is no second example. He also mentioned two major objectives of India in the field of green power. First, to decarbonise electricity generation and second, to electrify everything else.
“India and the EU collaborate on a lot of things. The European Investment Bank has been proved to be of much help for India. Investments made by the Bank have led to wonderful outcomes. It also financed the Lucknow Metro. The fact that the metro is coming all over in India shall help us to ensure that carbon emissions from personal vehicles in India get rapidly reduced. India and Europe can get together on a huge global mission on hydrogen. Something similar to India-led initiative on solar power and perhaps, provide fast results as a consequence of the reduction in dependency on fossil fuels," he added.
Highlighting the importance of ‘green recovery’, Annika Hedberg stated, “We need to commit to green recovery from the coronavirus crisis. We also need to take into account other things and need to invest in the future in areas of utmost importance to society. Most importantly, we need to be people centric. In Europe, areas which have invested a lot on fossil fuels and are still dependent on coal. The transition for countries like Poland is going to be a major task.
"And at the same time, we need to help such countries in transition. There is a need to recognise the support system and extend help to upskill them. In Germany, there are significant regions that are heavily dependent over coal. These people are very keen on such a pattern and want to remain in the same energy space. We have been getting some very positive signals as important developments are taking place in the EU regarding such transitions. A number of regions are currently in the middle of the transition. The other member nations need to support these regions.”
Jo Leinen moderated the discussion and touched upon a number of burning topics related to prolonged as well as real-time issues, bringing up topics like biodiversity, adaptation, climate finance, cooperation, greenhouse emissions, COP-26, etc. in the discussion.
About India’s steps in the field of biodiversity, he said, “I know that there are social problems and economic problems but you are famous for biological products. Your products are much more enhancive and are accepted in most parts of the world and are really an asset for India. You have such beautiful landscapes and I think India can be an example in biodiversity globally.”
Neena Gill concluded the event, and presented the vote of thanks. She said, "We need to get this message and understanding across to a wider audience. That is one of the ambitions of this organisation to transmit such conversations into public space, to ordinary people. When we look at the 27 EU states, they are at different trajectories of climate change awareness and likewise are the states in India.
"I hope we would be able to take these debates to the state level, connecting with the local people in different states and connect countries through this initiative. The idea is to have a bottom-up approach that links local initiatives internationally. This is not the end of this debate but the beginning.”
The discussion becomes more important as Indian PM Modi is expected to participate in the summit and was invited by the UK government to attend the event earlier in November.