25 August 2021

Better Together: EU-India Cooperation in Addressing Climate Risks

Historical political cooperation between the EU and India has been characterized by benign neglect and unfulfilled potential. The risks associated with climate change presents potential avenues for stepping up EU-India cooperation and recalibrating political relations in an increasingly volatile international environment. This policy brief discusses how “Brussels” and “New Delhi” can work together beyond their own domestic transitions to reduce risks and enhance security across the wider regions. This includes using climate adaptation for peace and stability gains and securing a free and affordable flow of rare-earths needed for energy transition technologies. Disaster resilience, “greening the military” and managing the risks associated with energy transition may be new avenues for cooperation. But for this to happen, the EU and India need to acknowledge that climate change impacts and policies stretch beyond the realm of environment and economic development, since they also affect international security, migration and political relations in-and-between countries. 

Bearing this in mind, the policy brief arrives at the following recommendations: 

  • Consider climate risks as part of the overall EU-India dialogue on climate change and energy transition.  

  • Specific to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), encourage the discussion of climate change and subsequent security impacts to foster greater regional dialogue and seek avenues of cooperation as an external actor within the ‘Areas of Cooperation’ framework of BIMSTEC.  

  • Extend the EU-India joint naval exercise mechanism in the Indo-pacific, to involve disaster relief preparedness in its exercise curriculum. This could be achieved through full EU participation in the Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative.  

  • Scale-up support to the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) to enhance the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) through capability and regulatory support and financing instruments.  

  • Realise and utilise the potential of the military to contribute to the transition and manage security risks related to climate impacts. Cooperation between European and Indian armies/navies could be modelled on the EU’s Climate Change & Defence Roadmap, with elements adopted from the roadmap to the local South Asian security/geopolitical context.  

  • Step up efforts to enable EU or Indian-backed investments in energy infrastructure and renewables in third countries, and that could be a reasonable alternative to fossil investments through the Belt and Road Intiative (BRI).  

  • Enhance bilateral cooperation over rare earth production through European financing, technological transfers for exploration, extraction and refinement, and facilitating market liberalisation. Cooperation could be formalised through a distinct EU-India Raw Material Partnership, the recent connectivity deal or the Clean Energy & Climate Partnership 

Read full policy brief here

Photo credit: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid/Flickr