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India and France Strengthen Joint Commitments to Renewable Energy

Macron and Modi inaugurate the 100 MWp Solar Power Plant in Mirzapur on March 12, 2018. MEAphotogallery / Flickr

As the International Solar Alliance (ISA) kicked off its founding conference in New Delhi this past weekend, India and France publicly reaffirmed their commitment to working together to fight climate change.

The two countries signed a pact on "cooperation in the field of environment" on Saturday, a day before the conference began, The Economic Times reported.


Then on Sunday, Reuters reported that French President Emmanuel Macron pledged 700 million euros to the ISA, more than tripling France's original commitment.

The pact is designed to facilitate information exchange between government officials and experts in the two countries as they work to protect the environment and combat climate change.

The ISA was launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendera Modi and former French President Francois Hollande at the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris that also gave rise to the Paris agreement. It seeks to facilitate cooperation between 121 solar-rich countries lying between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer in order to lower prices and drive innovation in the solar sector. It became a treaty-based organization on Dec. 6, 2017.

The ISA, and the new cooperation pact, are two examples of how France and India's governments are positioning their countries as leaders in the global fight against climate change.

Macron has built on on his predecessor's commitments. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, he pledged to shutter all French coal plants by 2021, advancing Hollande's promise by two years. India, meanwhile, has committed to building the capacity for 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2022. While India is the third largest releaser of carbon dioxide, according to the most recent data available, its current policies also put it on track to reach an emissions level compatible with 2°C of warming, according to analysis performed by Climate Tracker. For comparison, the current efforts of the U.S., the no. 2 releaser, are deemed "critically insufficient" to meet even the 2°C goal.

Both Macron and Modi have doubled down on their climate efforts in response to Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris agreement. The two leaders gave a joint press conference in June pledging to collaborate in the face of the U.S. president's withdrawal. "We are both convinced that our countries have to do a lot for the ecological and environmental transition and the fight against global warming," Macron said at the conference, Reuters reported.

Macron has also offered funds, cheekily titled the "Make Our Planet Great Again" grants, to U.S. and other non-French climate scientists who apply to come to France and conduct their research.

At this past weekend's ISA conference, both countries reiterated their commitment to international climate change efforts.

In a joint statement issued the day before the conference, the two nations "committed to fully implement the Paris Agreement at the COP24 and further on, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a part of an irreversible global process at combating climate change for the benefit of all humanity," The Economic Times reported.

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"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."

Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.

"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."

Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.

However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.

"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.

Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.

Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.

"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.

Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.


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