EU day with IIT Roorkee: EU-India cooperation in climate and energy

On the occasion of international Earth Day, the Delegation of the European Union hosted a virtual discussion with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee on the theme, “EU-India Cooperation in Climate and Energy”. The online event held as part of the EU Day series put a spotlight on the joint initiatives with India in the area of climate action, clean energy transition, biodiversity including policy dialogues, and the role of innovation. European climate and energy policies, including the EU recovery package NextGenerationEU, the European Green Deal, and research and innovation initiatives were also discussed.

The EU-India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership was agreed at the EU-India Summit in 2016 and re-iterated during the 15th EU-India Summit in July, 2020. It includes cooperation on energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart grids and grid integration, storage, sustainable finance, cooling and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Delivering the keynote address, Mr. Ugo Astuto, EU Ambassador to India highlighted the EU green recovery agenda, the central role of the European Green Deal and the importance of the EU and India working together in the area of climate change, biodiversity and circular economy. He said, “The first Earth Day took place in 1970. Now, 51 years later, this day is more relevant than ever, as the planet is facing the existential issue of climate change. Today, on international Earth Day, we must remember how fragile our planet is and how important it is to protect its climate and biodiversity. If we want to achieve the objectives set in Paris, the international community needs to act cohesively and consistently. The EU and India can play an important role in shaping the global agenda.

In his opening address, Prof. Ajit K. Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee, welcomed the EU Delegation and gave an overview of the institution. “While there is consensus among academia for solutions enabling environment protection and promoting clean energy, it is critical to communicate solutions in an effective manner to policy and decision makers. It is equally important to put these solutions within the current contexts of India's science and technology policy and overarching policy framework. The EU's climate change and clean energy projects are well aligned with India's vision. It is critical that EU-India partnership is nurtured so that we can collectively solve problems that we cannot solve independently.  The issues to be addressed by India-EU Clean Energy and Climate Partnership (CECP) project, have a strong overlap with the expertise available at IIT Roorkee. Today’s discussions will enable us to strengthen and catapult our collaborations with the EU institutes,” he said.

Mr. Edwin Koekkoek, Counsellor Energy and Climate Action, EU Delegation to India, highlighted the ‘EU-India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership,’ and focused on climate change and energy, the EU policies and EU-India collaboration on the clean energy transition. Reiterating that partnership, he said, “Both the EU and India have set ambitious renewable energy targets and are exchanging knowledge and expertise on the technical, regulatory and financial challenges and possible solutions to ensure clean, affordable and reliable energy, green growth and jobs and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”  

Energy transitions and environmental protection are intertwined. Forms and functions of technologies determine significant outcomes in this interface. The third element, namely, a scientifically tempered society, however; is at the centre of related and just transitions. It is important to deliberate on public policy processes that can deliver such integrated gains,” said Prof. R Gopichandran, Professor, NTPC School of Business.

EU Member States including representatives from France, Germany and Sweden also participated in discussion on the ongoing cooperation with India in the area of clean energy and climate change.

Ms. Luisa Terranova, Counsellor, Embassy of France opined, “The year 2021 is key for our planet. It is also the Indo-French year of environment in which France and India will work together, along with the EU, to step up global action against climate change. France is more than ever committed to supporting India in its ecological transition.” Mr. Bruno Bosle, Country Director, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) added that AFD was contributing to the energy transition in India for the past 12 years. “More than financings, we are glad to participate towards innovative solutions which are inspiring other countries and contributing to the Paris Agreement objectives,” he said.

Dr. Antje Berger, Counsellor, Climate & Environment, Embassy of Germany, said, “The German Government believes that a global Energiewende (energy transition) is possible. The shift to new and renewable energy has challenges but is also an area of opportunity for economic growth. Together with EU and other EU Member States, Germany is ready to support India in its endeavour to reach its ambitious climate goals of 450 GW renewable energy by 2030." Dr. Winfried Damm, Head of Indo-German Energy programme, GIZ, echoed Dr. Antje’s thoughts. “The global transition towards zero-emissions in the next few decades will transform not only the energy sector but also transportation and industry enormously. It is a great honour to be able to support India on its transition in these sectors for the benefit of humankind,” he said.

Further, Mr. Viggo Barmen, Second Secretary, Trade, Economic & Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Sweden outlined Sweden's approach to addressing climate change, including its goal for climate neutrality by 2045. “Sweden and India are key partners in innovation and industry transition. Looking forward to continuing co-creating green solutions to common challenges,” he said.

Ms. Tania Friederichs, Head of Research and Innovation, EU Delegation, underlined the importance of research and innovation to achieve the objectives to become carbon neutral by 2050. “In this overall objective, the transition to clean energy plays an important role and for this, more research is required to increase energy efficiency, share of renewable energy and make solutions affordable. New low-carbon technologies will also influence the speed at which the transition can take place, and in this start-ups play an important role. More research is also necessary to reduce energy use by industry (construction, chemistry). The EU will increase its efforts on energy research under the new research and innovation programme ‘Horizon Europe’, she said.  The first calls of proposals will be launched before end of May 2021 and should include many opportunities for collaborations with India, including for post-doctoral fellows. The flagship programme on higher education Erasmus+ has also been adopted and first calls for higher education institutions like IIT Roorkee, are open for application.

Other key speakers at the event were Prof. N. P. Padhy, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Roorkee; Prof. Chandra Shekhar Prasad Ojha, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Roorkee. The event was moderated by Mr. Souvik Bhattacharjya, Associate Director, Integrated Policy Analysis Division, TERI and Prof. Anjan Sil, Prof. Himanshu Jain, and Prof. Ankit Agarwal from IIT Roorkee. Prof. P. Arumugam, Dean of International Relations and Department of Physics, IIT Roorkee delivered the closing remarks.

At the 15th EU-India Summit in July 2020, the EU and India agreed as part of the roadmap 2025 to further implement the Partnership for Climate Change and Clean Energy namely towards reinforcing cooperation between EU and India on clean energy and climate change with a view to ensure a secure, clean, affordable and reliable energy supply for all and to progress in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, by focusing on Energy Efficiency (EE), Renewable Energy (RE) and Climate Change (CC).

The EU and India also agreed to enhance their partnership in support of sustainable modernisation by boosting cooperation to support clean energy transition, resource efficiency and circular economy.

The EU & Climate Change: The EU is fighting climate change through ambitious policies at home and close cooperation with international partners. It is already on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2020 and has put forward a plan to further cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030. By 2050, Europe aims to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent. Alongside reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the EU is also taking action to adapt to the impacts of climate change. By 2050, Europe aims to be a climate-resilient society.

About IIT Roorkee:
IIT Roorkee is an institute of national importance imparting higher education in engineering, sciences, management, architecture and planning, and humanities and social sciences. Since its establishment in 1847, the Institute has played a vital role in providing technical human resources and know-how to the country.

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