Delhi and Brussels summit dominated by terror threat, but agree new range of measures to allow India greater access to finance and green technologies
By Alex Pashley
The European Union vowed to help India realise its clean energy aspirations at a bilateral summit in Brussels on Wednesday.
In a joint declaration, the major economies pledged to cooperate on integrating India’s electricity grid with large solar parks, support the development of smart grids and assist in the planning of its first offshore wind array.
European Council president Donald Tusk and India prime minister Narendra Modi laid out the Clean Energy and Climate Partnership at the first EU-India summit in four years and billed as a reboot in relations.
The countries stated a “common interest to promote clean energy generation and increased energy efficiency for climate action” in the context of a new global warming accord.
India, the world’s fourth-largest carbon polluter, has set out targets to cut carbon and deploy renewable energy on a large scale in its commitment to the Paris climate agreement.
But such plans are staked on an estimated $2.5 trillion in support and access to technology to meet a goal for 40% of its electricity to come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
In January, India and France inaugurated a new solar alliance of over 100 sun-rich countries, a research drive to make the energy economic against fossil fuels.
In October, Germany laid out €2 billion towards India’s ‘Energy Corridor’, which aims to improve transmission lines to widen energy access.
“There have been several bilateral connections happen with member countries. Prime minister Modi is now hoping for full EU support,” said Bharath Jairaj, an analyst at World Resources Institute India.
“The bottom line is that this trip is about several things and not just clean energy, but it’s an area of common interest.”
The EU and India pledged to look at cooperation on the solar alliance and Mission Innovation, a 20-country drive to double clean energy research spending in five years.
The EU, the third-largest emitting bloc, is targeting a 40% cut in emissions compared with 1990 levels by 2030, and 27% of energy consumption to come from renewables.
It sees an advancement in the EU-India ‘strategic partnership’, set up in 2004. Moving along a stalled free trade agreement started in 2007, and work on counter-terrorism measures also figured.
Yet while the EU is India’s largest trading partner and number one foreign investor, India is only the EU’s ninth largest partner, making up just 2.1% of trade, according to an EU fact sheet.
The European Investment Bank and India were set to agree a €450 million loan for a metro system in the city of Lucknow on the sidelines of the summit, local media reported.