Ursula Von Der Leyen arrives in India, praises Solar Alliance

Addressing the roundtable at the headquarters of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday praised India’s energy independence goals while saying that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a “stark reminder” that Europe’s dependency on Russian fossil fuels is unsustainable.

“For us Europeans, it (Russian invasion of Ukraine) is a stark reminder that our dependency on Russian fossil fuels is not sustainable because how can you do business with someone who openly threatens Europe and wages war against one of your closest neighbours,” the European Commission president said.

She further stated that the Ukraine war establishes that the “transition to home-grown clean energy is not only good for the environment but it also becomes a strategic investment in security”.

“Energy policy is also security policy because every kilowatt of energy we generate from solar, wind, hydropower or biomass reduces our dependence on fossil fuels in general,” Leyen said.

Talking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that India should be energy independent before it celebrates 100 years of its independence, Leyen said, “It’s in our common interest that, this independence of fossil fuel that comes from abroad is (turned into) a transformation into renewable and clean energy.”

Leyen also praised India’s initiative of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), especially with regard to developing new technologies in solar applications in agriculture and producing green hydrogen, further saying that India is making infinite energy of the sun “available and affordable”.

“This is amazing what you are doing,” she remarked.

“India and the EU are closely aligned in the fight against climate change and of course have understood how precious solar energy is. Both India and the EU have embarked on their way to net-zero. Europe wants to be climate neutral by 2050, and India by 2070, but in addition, India has committed to cover half of its energy demand from renewable sources already by 2030,” president Leyen said, adding that it “is amazingly good news”.

The European Commission president also talked about the energy partnership between India and the European Union (EU), including the “EU-India clean energy partnership” and “mission innovation”.

EU-India clean energy partnership was adopted in 2016 and deals with a variety of issues including smart grids or storage, clean energy financing, and cooperation on green hydrogen.

Mission Innovation is a global initiative of 22 countries and the EU with the aim to provide investment in clean energy research and innovation.

“With Mission Innovation, we want to accelerate clean energy everywhere on our planet, and India is a key contributor to this common effort,” Leyen said, adding that the ministerial meeting of the initiative in India next year will be an important milestone.

“We all have our place under the sun, and we will do whatever it takes to keep this planet liveable,” the European Commission president concluded.

The EU President arrived in India for a two-day official visit on Sunday to strengthen India-EU strategic partnership. This is her first visit to India as the President of the European Commission.

The President of the European Commission has been invited as the chief guest for this year’s edition of Raisina Dialogue and will address the inaugural session on 25 April.

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