Indo-French relations to reach new peak as Macron elected for next term

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Emmanuel Macron on being re-elected as the President of France. With this, the cooperation between France and India on a wide spectrum of issues including promotion of green energy is expected to reach new heights.

India and France have seen increasing economic ties and geo-strategic cooperation. France has emerged as a major source of Foreign Direct Investment with over 1,000 French establishments investing in India with turnover of $20 billion and employing around 300,000 people.

During the calendar year 2021, the India-France bilateral trade, excluding Military deals, increased by 13.7 per cent to $13.13 billion, out of which Indian exports were $7.1 billion.

India along with France had led the way in international initiatives on the issue of clean energy by creating the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

The ISA reflects the kind of partnership that will change the way energy was generated and utilised without damaging the environment.

The ISA was conceived to mobilise efforts against climate change through the deployment of solar energy solutions at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Paris in 2015.

ISA provides a dedicated platform for cooperation among governments, multilateral organisations, industry, and other stakeholders to help achieve a common goal.

In a short span of six years, the ISA has become an example of how positive global climate action can be taken forward through partnerships.

The move has already delivered results, with ISA building a solar project pipeline of nearly 5 GW installed capacity. The approach will culminate in a vision for interconnected global grids, which was formalized and jointly launched as the Green Grids Initiative – ‘One Sun One World One Grid’.

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict exposed the risks of over-dependence on Russia and fossil resources for energy purposes. Alternative sources of energy are the need of the hour and ISA could contribute a lot in achieving zero carbon neutrality besides meeting growing power demand.

The ISA is encompassing more commitments fromthe environmentally concerned countries. Recently during a visit to India, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt announced Norway’s membership for the ISA. The European Commission also signed a joint declaration for cooperation in December 2018, becoming a partner of the ISA.

The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a recent visit to ISA headquarters in India stated that “our transition to home-grown renewable energy is not only good for the environment, but it also becomes a strategic investment in security. Energy policy is also security policy”.

She disclosed that the European Commission would present a new solar strategy of the EU as part of REPowerEU package.

She also appreciated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment that India should be energy independent before it celebrates 100 years (2047) of its independence. Both India and the EU share the common interest of independence from fossil fuel.

It was a historic decision by the UN General Assembly conferring ‘Observer Status’ to the ISA in December 2021, which would help to provide for a well-defined cooperation between the Alliance and the UN, which would benefit global energy growth and development.

The US joined (November 2021) the Alliance ISA, giving “a big boost” to the “global adoption of solar energy”. The US was the 101st country to sign the framework agreement.

The Saudi Gazette stated recently, “today, within 6 years, India’s renewable energy capacity has increased by more than 250 per cent — which in itself is a rapid pace of growth for any country, especially a developing country with 140 crore individuals. As a result, India is now amongst the top five countries of the world in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. All this is geared at ensuring a sustained effort towards achieving sustainable development in the longer run”.

Earlier (December 2021), India and France had vowed to increase defence cooperation across wider array of domains during bilateral talks between India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly in New Delhi. Both countries aim at cooperation in emerging technology including aerospace and maritime domain. President Macron’s re-election could provide an opportunity to India to seek a change from buyer-seller relationship to collaboration in cutting edge manufacturing including high-tech products.

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