"The EU plays an important role in environmental policymaking. Environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, climate change and the decline in biodiversity, do not respect borders, so cooperation at EU level is necessary and well developed."Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for Environment

The EU is a leader in global efforts to protect the environment. The EU, for instance, is one of the initiators of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) creating a strategic approach to the international management of chemicals. The EU is a signatory and active participant in the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, which entered into force in February 2005. Moreover, the EU is party to a number of international agreements and partnerships, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depletion.

Internally, the EU's treaty is based on the notion of "sustainable development" and the EU adheres to this by integrating environmental requirements into the definition and implementation of other EU policies and activities. The ultimate goal of sustainable development is to achieve a form of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The EU has established a comprehensive system of environmental protection covering emissions into the air and water, noise, waste disposal, conservation of natural habitats, chemicals, biotechnology, industrial accidents and nuclear safety. An example of such domestic actions is the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) on CO2 emissions from industrial installations. In general, the EU's environmental policy is underpinned by the "precautionary principle." It is based on the "polluter pays" concept and the management and control of pollution at source.

EU-India Cooperation in the Field of Environment

The EU‘s overall objective is to support India’s efforts towards sustainable growth and to build mutual understanding on global environmental issues including climate change.

Environment is recognised as a strategic area for dialogue in the EU-India Partnership and the Joint Action Plan provides the basis for enhancing cooperation on environment and climate change. The launch of an EU-India Environment Forum and the EU-India Initiative on Clean Development and Climate Change are some of the key commitments undertaken to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Waste was identified as the first theme to be addressed by the EU-India Environment Forum. The 2005 Environment Forum focused on hazardous waste management and urban waste management. The 2006 Forum addressed waste minimisation, hazardous waste management and landfill. Both Forums provided for an effective exchange of information and showed that EU and India share similar concerns on waste, recognising that while robust legislation is important, enforcement and compliance are essential to progress. The 2008 Environment Forum focused on chemicals management, in particular REACH. The 2010 Environment Forum focused on electronic waste. The 6th Environment Forum in New Delhi in 2011 discussed ways to safeguard biodiversity while the 7th Forum also in New Delhi in November 2012 addressed sustainable forestry.

A project on Renewable Energy and Clean Technologies of an amount of EUR 28.6 million will be launched in 2013 in collaboration with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Government of India is seeking through this project exposure to European best practice experiences on green energy sources, energy efficiency and access to clean technologies.  Helping India to increase its usage of clean technologies and green energy will have a significant impact in the long-term in mitigating its contribution to global greenhouse gases, along with enhancing its national energy security.  In addition, the widespread deployment of an eco-friendly economy would also create significant employment potential for skilled and semi-skilled workers.

The project will focus on three sets of activities:

  • Support to policy development and implementation through capacity building and best practice exchange
  • Support to the expansion of New Renewable Energy Sources
  • Support for the promotion of energy efficiency and adoption of clean technologies

The expected results are:

  • Enhanced capacity of Indian authorities to create an enabling environment promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Increased penetration of renewable energies and improved use of clean technologies and energy efficiency
  • Enhanced human capacity and new employment opportunities  through the transfer of the required skills and technical know-how for the use and development of clean technology in the local context
  • Increased awareness among public and private actors and the public at large on environmentally friendly development activities.
  • EU-India cooperation