Environment & Sustainability

EU-India cooperation: facing together the energy-climate challenges

On 6th October 2017 the EU and India adopted a joint statement on clean energy and climate change, confirming their commitments under the Paris Agreement and agreeing to step up cooperation to enhance its implementation and meet its ambitious goals.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi with the President European Council, Mr. Donald Tusk and the President European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, at EU-INDIA Summit, in Brussels, Belgium on March 30, 2016

At the 14th EU-India summit in New Delhi in India, on 6 October 2017, the two parties reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen their strategic partnership in the context of the EU-India cooperation. The summit marked the 55th anniversary since the establishment of EU-India diplomatic relations. Following the discussions on foreign and security policy, migration, trade, climate, research and innovation the EU-India leaders adopted joint statements on specific issues. Climate action and the clean energy transition are seen by EU and India as imperative for the future development of their societies, and they represent one of the main fields where the EU-India cooperation could lead to great social and economic developments for both parties.

EU-India cooperation in energy and climate 

The EU and India have held an energy and climate dialogue since 2005, when the Joint Action Plan (JAP) was established to realize the full potential of the strategic partnership between India and the EU, including clean development and climate change areas. EU and India consider climate action and the clean energy transition as an imperative for the future development of their societies, and both sides see the potential positive outcomes of a close collaboration.

The EU-India Energy Panel, set up with the 2005 JAP, meets once a year to coordinate joint efforts and discuss energy related matters of mutual interest, such as: energy security, renewables, energy efficiency, smart integration, coal and clean coal.

The EU-India joint statement on clean energy and climate change signed in New Delhi, on 6 October 2017 builds on the ratification of the Paris Agreement and the Joint Declaration on a Clean Energy and Climate Partnership adopted in 2016.

The 2017 EU-India cooperation joint statement

With this joint statement the EU and India confirm their Paris Agreement commitments. They agree to step up EU-India cooperation to enhance its implementation and meet its ambitious goals, while highlighting the importance of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. EU and India, together with China, are becoming key international players for the solidity and progressive enhancement of the Paris Agreement, especially if the US (i.e. the Trump administration) will really finalize the withdrawal from the Agreement.

Beside the EU-India renovated intention to collaborate in the context the Paris Agreement and in other multilateral for a, such as the Montreal Protocol, the International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the International Solar Alliance (ISA)[1] and the G20, the two parties highlight  their willingness to strengthen their bilateral  cooperation.

The general aim is to facilitate strong business-to-business interaction on clean energy and climate and to support the dialogue by working groups and events on areas of mutual interest and which could lead to socio-economic benefits for both sides. Some specific areas of cooperation interest are the following.

  • Concrete activities on training, affordable finance, and disseminating best practices for solar deployment as well as on de-risking finance, in the frame of ISA;
  • Increased energy efficiency of products and industrial processes, and further development of EU-India existing cooperation on energy efficiency in buildings;
  • Solar parks and smart grid demonstrations, with the smart integration of renewable energy in the electricity system, including the enabling policy and regulatory aspects;
  • Cost-effective development of offshore wind in India, involving the European Investment Bank in mobilizing finance with adequate provisions for risk mitigation, and technical assistance for development and deployment of offshore wind;
  • Dialogue on low-carbon energy security in the frame of the meetings of the EU-India Joint Working Group on Energy Security;
  • Low-greenhouse gas emissions cities’ development in the framework of the Global Covenant of Mayors, with a strong focus on sustainable urbanization, including pathways towards low-emission mobility;
  • Some specific solutions for the clean energy transition: green cooling and sustainable refrigeration technologies, grid integrated solar pumping, off-shore wind, energy storage technologies, next generation solar cell, electric mobility, advanced biofuels.

EU-India: common but differentiated responsibilities

EU and India partnership and cooperation in the energy and climate fields is based on the mutual recognition and shared knowledge of the socio economic huge differences between the two parties. The final major target is the same for both paries: addressing climate change and relevant environmental issues investing in clean technologies and innovation, while spurring a socio economic sustainable development. But the starting points and the pathways are very different, and the mutual value for EU-India cooperation lays in those differences.

As clearly stated and reported in the India’s First Nationally Determined Contribution for the Paris Agreement, India is a developing country which will face in the next decades continuous strong population and resource need increases (Table 1). And although India declared a voluntary goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20–25%, over 2005 levels, by 2020, and massive investments in renewables are prospected, coal will continue to dominate power generation in future in order to secure reliable, adequate and affordable supply of electricity.

India's projected key macro indicators

India’s leaders appear to be extremely aware of and worried about the socio-environmental issues that the country will face in the next years. The socio-economic-environmental unsustainability of the current (or recent past) growth path is today very clear, and the cooperation with developed countries is seen as a pivotal tool to drive the Indian economy toward the energy-climate transition.  The technical and economical knowledge, together with direct investments or economic support from developed economies can foster the achievement of the developing countries internal needs and nationally determined targets in the most efficient and effective way.

On the other hand “The EU and its Member States are committed to a binding target of an at least 40% domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, to be fulfilled jointly”. This commitment entails a decrease of emission in absolute terms, coupled with a slow but continuous economic growth, which is something the developing countries are aiming to in the long term. In this context the EU-India cooperation is an extremely valuable opportunity for the EU and its Member States to apply and teach the knowledge acquired during the past decades of socio, economic and energy-climate successful or even unsuccessful developments.

Taking advantage of the differences can lead to win-win situations when the local needs and voices are listened and respected. Hopefully the EU-India cooperation will be going on in this direction.


[1] a common platform for cooperation among sun-rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn