For over a year now, India, Germany and the entire world have been in crisis mode. The Covid-19 pandemic has left no country untouched. It is safe to say, we will either beat Covid-19 worldwide or not at all.
The virus briefly drew attention away from another crisis — climate change and its impact. In South Asia and Europe, we have become used to extremely hot weather, flooding, dramatic depletion of groundwater tables and drought. Climate change could even stop the world from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We have agreed that global warming must be kept to well under 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, to 1.5 degrees. Back in December 2015, 195 countries joined in Paris to sign an ambitious climate agreement. Each of those countries must deliver on their responsibilities. Climate change, too, is a crisis that can only be beaten worldwide or not at all.
India is one of few countries that looks set to deliver on the national goals it set itself as part of the Paris agreement. Compared to other G20 countries, its per capita emissions are very low.
At the same time, India must bear in mind the development interests of its large population. We firmly believe that sustainable growth and climate action go hand in hand. India now has the opportunity to make its massive investments in infrastructure over the next 15 years climate-smart and climate-resilient. This will also protect the interests of the most vulnerable sections of the population. Without India, the world will not be able to fight climate change. Without India, we cannot achieve the SDGs. That means that India has a leading international role to play in the global race to sustainability.
The EU has adopted an ambitious Green Deal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to decouple economic growth from consumption of natural resources. Germany recently adopted laws on reducing greenhouse gases more quickly, achieving climate neutrality by 2045 and stopping the use of coal for electricity production by 2038.
As Deputy Ministers in Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, we come to India with the greatest confidence in the country’s political process and to learn from India. We see our responsibility as an industrialised country to both forge ahead with greening our own economy and also support other countries.
In 2015, India’s Prime Minister and Germany’s Federal Chancellor agreed to further strengthen the two countries’ strategic partnership. On this basis, Germany and India have succeeded in building up a cooperation portfolio worth almost 12 billion euros. Already, nine out of 10 measures support climate goals and SDGs together.
Indo-German development cooperation focuses on three areas: The transition to renewable energies, sustainable urban development and sustainable management of natural resources. As a pioneer of energy transition, Germany is offering knowledge, technology transfer and financial solutions. Over half the Indian population will live in cities by 2050. Our cooperation efforts support Indian policies to find sustainable solutions for this growth challenge in the face of limited urban resources and climate change.
The pandemic has shown global supply chains are vulnerable. Yet, when it comes to agriculture and natural resources, there are smart solutions that are being tested in India and Germany for more self-reliance, including agro-ecological approaches and sustainable management of forests, soils and water. Experience in India has shown that these methods also boost incomes for the local population and make them less dependent on expensive fertilisers, pesticides and seed. We look forward to deepening the work in this area. This is related to international health policies. Through a One Health approach, which looks at the close connections between human and animal health within their shared environment, we want to help tackle the challenges posed by population growth, increased mobility, shrinking habitats, industrialised farming and intensive animal husbandry.
Ultimately, we believe that global climate goals and the SDGs can only be achieved through cooperation between governments, the private sector, science, and civil society. India and Germany have innovative economies and many highly-trained people. We should harness that potential even more.
This column first appeared in the print edition on September 10, 2021 under the title ‘The other shared crisis’. The writers are deputy ministers, German Ministry for economic cooperation and development.