Home >politics >policy >France plans to resolve financial issues before Paris climate talks

New Delhi: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, France made a pitch for resolving financial issues to achieve a meaningful climate change pact at the United Nations (UN) climate conference in Paris in December.

The summit is expected to finalize a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

At a media briefing in New Delhi, Ségolène Royal, France’s minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy, lauded India’s efforts in promoting solar energy and setting up smart cities. This follows a US statement of support articulated during US President Barack Obama’s visit last month for India’s green energy efforts.

India’s intended nationally determined contributions to tackle climate change and which will form the basis for negotiations at Paris are in the works and are expected to be submitted to the UN by June.

“We need to resolve all the financial issues before the Paris conference. The French government is making all efforts that the final questions are resolved. It will give credibility to the agreement," Royal said.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) set up to provide developing nations $100 billion annually by 2020 to counter climate change has seen lukewarm response; so far the total contribution to GCF has been of $10 billion.

“We need to see that national contributions and commitments have to go hand in hand with the agreement," Royal said. “The developing countries are not yet emitting as much as the developed countries emit."

“Developed countries have a moral obligation of transferring technology to less developed countries," she said.

Even though India is under no pressure to act on climate change, it is taking steps to voluntarily cut carbon emissions and diversify its energy mix, with a heavy focus on renewable energy. This comes in the backdrop of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government substantially raising an earlier solar energy target of achieving 20,000 megawatts (MW) capacity by 2022 to 100,000MW, which will improve India’s standing at the climate change talks.

Commenting on the nuclear breakthrough achieved during Obama’s visit last month, Royal stressed its importance for France given its involvement in the nuclear energy framework and said, “the agreement between US and India opens interesting perspectives. Who will bear the risks? These clarifications are very important. This will take us in a good direction and will enable Government of India to make a free choice."

In response to a question about the exorbitant cost of nuclear energy, Royal said, “It is for India and its people to decide upon the energy mix. In the new energy mix, nuclear can play a role."

Nuclear suppliers have been wary of entering the Indian market given that India’s 2010 nuclear liability law puts the onus on suppliers rather than operators in the event of an accident. An agreement has been reached between India and US to create a 1,500 crore “insurance pool" to hand out compensation in the event of a nuclear accident.

The companies putting money into the kitty include India’s state-run insurer General Insurance Corp. of India and four other public sector undertakings.

France has been seeking clarifications on how India’s nuclear liability law would be implemented and the consequences of any possible nuclear accident. In 2010, state-run Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd signed a pact with France’s Areva SA to buy two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR), each with a capacity to produce 1,650MW of electricity, and uranium supply for a period of 25 years for the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharashtra.

These units are the first of six that will be constructed at Jaitapur for commissioning by 2018. The complex will have an overall capacity of 10,000MW.

In response to a question about the nuclear issue being part of the agenda for discussion during Modi’s visit to France, Ségolène Royal said, “I am sure we will discuss this. This is a subject which needs further discussion. Its is a good subject to understand the division of responsibilities."

This comes at a time when France is hopeful of clinching a $20 billion deal to sell India 126 fighter aircraft.

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