INTRODUCTION On 12 October 2020 a webinar was organised with the title “Is Green the new Growth Paradigm? An India-EU High Level Webinar on Sharing Ideas on Green Recovery Post COVID-19”, with the support of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, and in cooperation with The Energy and Resources Insitute (TERI) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ). COVID19 has affected severely our health, lives, economies and the environment. While the challenges are far reaching, the post COVID scenario also offers the opportunity to re-shape our economic models in a more sustainable fashion, to build back better, for a green, digital and resilient future. The “greening” of the recovery strategies can offer the opportunity to build an integrated and systemic approach, with actions aimed at tackling the climate crisis, ensuring biodiversity conservation and working for sustainable development.
In the webinar the impact of the pandemic, the recovery packages in the EU and India and the need for green recovery were discussed. The webinar provided an opportunity for the sharing of such experiences and ideas from Europe and India on green recovery related issues.
Mr Ugo Astuto, EU Ambassador to India (welcoming remarks): Behind this health crisis, there’s a looming challenge posed by climate change and environmental degradation. Though the context in the EU and India are different, there are important similarities and common challenges. At the EU-India summit in July 2020, a Joint Statement, a Common Roadmap to 2025 and a Joint Declaration on Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy was adopted to guide joint actions. The cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is of utmost importance, as climate change, biodiversity and circular economy are top priorities for the EU in the EU-India cooperation. In these challenging times it is very valuable that the EU and India can sit together and exchange ideas on how to build back better and emerge stronger out of the current situation. The EU and India are strategic partners that will scale up cooperation for a green, digital and resilient future. Mr. Rameshwar Prasad Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC): With the strict national lockdown and other measures, India has been able to constrain the spread of the virus to a great extent. The decline in economic activities however led to a huge impact on the livelihood of the people. The industry sector in India has experienced significant economic loss due to COVID-19, particularly sectors such as real estate, auto, cement, iron and steel and most Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Informal sector workers have been adversely impacted as well.
The Government of India has taken significant steps to address the challenges arising due to climate, including the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) along with its eight missions and the State Action Plans on Climate Change at the state level. India is exploring sustainable development pathways through circular economy, electric mobility and sustainable transport systems. India aims to achieve 175 GW renewables by 2022 and has further enhanced its target of renewables to 450 GW by 2030. India has reduced the emission intensity of GDP by 25% between 2005 and 2020. India is one of the few countries that increased the forest area due to the Green India Mission (GIM). The Government of India allocated additional Rs 6000 crore (EUR 649 Million) to the Compulsory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund. It aims to promote afforestation programs in urban areas, artificial regeneration, wildlife protection and forest conservation. It will also generate employment opportunities in rural and tribal communities. India’s Nationally Determined Contributions are compatible with the Paris Agreement targets. To achieve these ambitious goals India is trying to mobilise its domestic resources through various schemes as well as a through a dedicated National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change. India has been pro-actively contributing to multi-lateral collaborations through global initiatives like the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to promote the use of solar energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. 88 countries have already become part of this international alliance. At the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019, organized by the UN Secretary-General, India announced the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) initiative that focuses on promoting climate-friendly and resilient infrastructure. The governments of India and Sweden, with support from the World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT) at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in September 2019. At present, 13 countries and 15 companies have joined this leadership group. India invites EU
member states to join these global collaborations.
Ms. Laurence Tubiana, CEO, European Climate Foundation: The decisions being taken today on recovery from the pandemic are decisions that will define our future. While we have clear short-term concerns, the amount of resources we are putting on the table to get out of this crisis is really defining our mid- and long-term future. Therefore, these joint discussions are very important, as it is not just one country or one region that is concerned, it is a global problem. There is an immense potential for the cooperation between India and the EU in the area of climate change, low carbon development and development as such. It would be good to have an in depth discussion on India’s concerns and needs on economic and social development and to see what elements from the inclusive green economic development model already happening in the EU would be relevant for the Indian context. The next India EU Summit could put forward such a discussion. We should discuss how our lifestyles will have impacts on economic development and climate. EU is in a good position to talk to others about what we are doing at home. Green diplomacy and international relations are much more about what you do at home than classical intergovernmental relations. In the run up to the Paris Agreement India played a crucial role. Since then India has demonstrated how economic development can be decoupled from emissions. In particular the exponential growth of solar energy in India needs to be mentioned.