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Opinion

French, German and EU envoys will visit Kochi to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement

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Envoys from France, Germany and the European Union (EU) will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement by visiting Kochi, which has benefited from several Indo-European partnership projects to address the challenges stemming from climate change.

European-backed projects in Kochi, a port city considered the economic capital of Kerala, are supporting low-carbon urban development policies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Several of these projects will be visited by French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain, German Ambassador Walter Lindner, and EU Ambassador Ugo Astuto on December 12.

These projects include the water metro, funded by the German investment bank KfW, and Vytilla, an intermodal transport hub connecting the water metro, bus services and the Kochi metro, which was funded by the French Development Agency ( AFD) with an EU technical assistance grant. The envoys will also visit the Cochin Shipyard, where a 100-seat ship is being built, said a joint statement from the embassies of France, Germany and the EU.

As part of efforts to highlight the importance of the Paris Agreement, envoys will use green transportation during the visit. For example, they will take electronic buses to get to Vytilla, the transportation hub.

On the last leg of the visit, envoys will go to Muttom Depot and use e-rickshaws, which provide first and last mile connectivity services on Kochi’s public transport network. They will also be briefed by Kochi Metro Rail officials on social and gender inclusion initiatives, flood mitigation measures, rainwater harvesting and solar energy integration.

The Kochi Metro, partially inaugurated in 2017, is the first pillar of an integrated mobility policy being implemented by state and local authorities. This policy, which has benefited from technical and financial support from France, Germany and the EU, has resulted in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

Envoys will also witness an example of Kochi’s comprehensive urban mobility planning at Edapally station, where pedestrian and bicycle traffic is prioritized. This will provide an opportunity to showcase the results of the Mobilize Your City (MYC) program, launched jointly at COP21 by the French and German governments and aimed at reducing emissions related to urban transport.

Kochi is one of the pioneer Indian cities in the MYC initiative, supported by AFD and funding worth € 3.5 million from the EU.

Envoys will also hold discussions with stakeholders in mobility and urban development, including Cochin Smart City Development Limited. Kochi is one of 12 cities benefiting from technical and financial support under the City Investments to Innovate, Integrate and Sustain (CITIIS) program of the Indian government, supported by AFD and the EU.

Before the visit, Lenain said that the close ties between France and Kochi are more than two decades old, and the cooperation with the French Development Bank started in 2014, with two loans totaling more than 207 million euros.

“Achieving the COP21 solutions agenda relies on broad partnerships like the one built in Kochi. It is an inspiring example of what we can achieve together with India, illustrating the path towards concrete actions that help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, ”he said.

Astuto said that even as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, countries must not forget that fighting climate change is an “existential problem for all of us.” He added: “Addressing the impacts of this global crisis must go hand in hand with the fight against climate change and the loss of biodiversity to build a greener future. After Covid, we need to rebuild better and invest in an economic model suitable for the 21st century: green, digital and resilient. ”

Lindner described the Paris Agreement as an important milestone on the road to a greener future. “Covid has shown us that cleaner air and a cleaner environment is possible. What we need now is a greener restart for our economies, ”he said.

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