India, France can assume leadership role in run-up to COP26: French foreign minister

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New Delhi, Apr 14 (PTI) India and France have always been the spearheads in climate action since the Paris Agreement and can assume a leadership role in the run-up to COP26 at Glasgow in November, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday.

He said the two countries can further deepen collaboration to lower the production cost of carbon-free hydrogen and work together to fight single-use plastics.

Le Drian, who is on a three-day visit to India, was delivering a closing speech at a panel discussion at the French Embassy on boosting global action against climate change in view of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also attended the event.

'The year 2021 is a very decisive year for our planet, with three COPs, particularly the COP26. There is a very big window of opportunity that we must seize together,' the French minister said.

'We have both decided that it was very important that India and France can assume a leadership role in the run-up to the COP26,' he said.

India and France have always been the spearheads on climate change action since the Paris Agreement, and have established very close cooperation in this area, Le Drian said.

'The fight against climate change is definitely the battle of the century. That's why the Indo-French partnership for protecting the planet is essential in my opinion,' the minister said.

Le Drian lauded India's goal of developing 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030.

He also said that India is ahead of schedule in achieving the climate objectives it set for itself following COP21. It is improving its energy efficiency and developing renewable energy at a remarkable speed.

'Despite these very promising advances, many challenges remain along the way. I would therefore like to reaffirm here France and the European Union's full mobilisation for cooperating with India not only so that it can achieve the ambitious goals it has set for itself, but also for inventing together the solutions needed to meet the climate challenge,' he said.

The minister stressed that India and France further deepen their collaboration to create a competitive industrial sector as soon as possible to lower the production cost of carbon-free hydrogen.

'France and India could also work together to fight single-use plastics. We should invite other countries to join this momentum and work on a moratorium on single-use plastics,' Le Drian said.

France, he said, knows that it can count on India's support for sending a message of ambition in view of the major international events of this crucial year.

The French minister said it is absolutely indispensable that all countries increase their climate commitments by the time the COP26 takes place in Glasgow, as required by the Paris Agreement.

“This increase in ambition must include setting new nationally determined contributions by 2030 and also long-term strategies to achieve carbon neutrality.

'We must stop building new coal-based power plants and it is essential that we progressively stop this mode of electricity production at a global level,” Le Drian said.

The November summit in Glasgow, Scotland, was earlier due to be held in 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PTI GVS RT