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No trade-off required between economic growth and environment protection: EU ambassador to India

"We can achieve growth and jobs by investing in green technologies and innovation. That's the only way to have sustainable growth, Ugo Astuto said.

Written by Vishnu Varma | Kochi | Updated: December 13, 2020 4:56:15 pm
German ambassador Walter J Lindner, French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain and EU ambassador Ugo Astuto travelling in the Kochi Metro. (Express)

The world can achieve economic growth and create jobs through sustainable technologies and there’s no need for a trade-off between the two, Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to India said Saturday.

“It’s the philosophy of the EU that there’s no trade-off between (economic) growth and jobs and protection of the environment. Actually we can achieve growth and jobs by investing in green technologies and innovation. That’s the only way to have sustainable growth…to have a sustainable creation of jobs,” Astuto told the Indian Express in Kochi. His comments come on the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord.

“That’s why the EU one year ago adopted a European green deal. The financial package has just been adopted and we have set aside 30% of the total precisely to projects or activities that are directly related to the protection of the environment,” he added.

Astuto, accompanied by German ambassador to India Walter J. Lindner and French ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain, were in Kochi to appraise the ongoing Water Metro project of the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), a substantial portion of which is financed under the Indo-German Financial Corporation with German funding agency KfW. The project aims to connect many islands surrounding Kochi with the mainland with the help of smart, efficient ferries.

French ambassador Lenain, when asked about the economic cost of the Covid-19  on funding green projects, echoed his counterpart’s views and said, “Our visit is to show that there’s no trade-off to choose between growth and sustainability…that good and smart projects can be good for the environment and good for the economy. One of the biggest engines for future growth will be green projects. Solar energy, smart grids, smart transportation will be major engines for growth for all countries and especially India since there are millions of new urban dwellers in the next decade.”

“My country (France) is very serious about achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. We are going to put that obligation into law to ensure that it is sustained over the years,” he said.

During the visit to Kochi, the three envoys experienced non-motorised transport initiatives by travelling in the Metro, e-rickshaw, bicycles, e-bus and ferries. They visited the water metro construction sites, the Operation Command and Control Centre at Muttom and the boats being built at the Cochin Shipyard for the water metro.

“In Kochi, we see an excellent example of Team Europe in action and of the EU-India partnership for the promotion of sustainable investments in Urban mobility. We look forward to further strengthening this partnership,” the EU ambassador said.

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