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India on track to achieve set targets under Paris climate agreement; experts flood with ideas to achieve target

Industry and business, big and small, align themselves with the climate goals the government has set and do take all efforts to move towards the target.

India Inc, according to a recent report by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) India, is aligning with the climate goals that the government has set under the Paris Agreement. Its India Climate Change Report 2017 is based on responses from 51 companies, including 43 from the BSE Top 200. Infosys, Tata Motors, Dalmia Cements, Wipro and Indian Oil Corporation were among the respondents.

Together, these 51 across sectors such as energy, consumer goods, technology and auto account for 275.92 million tCO2e of greenhouse gas emission.

Like the big names like Infosys, Mahindra, Tata Consultancy Services, nearly 500 units across eight energy-intensive sectors have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide produced by 31 million tonnes over three years from 2012 to 2015 through a market based mechanism — the Perform, Trade, and Achieve (PAT) scheme of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. These units are in sectors such as aluminium, cement, chlor-alkali, fertiliser, iron & steel, paper and pulp, textiles and thermal power.

Either by actual reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide pollution or by the effect of the use of renewable energy, the companies indeed have come a long way.  However, Singh warns that it is not time to be complacent. . As an emerging economy, India’s greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise by as much 85%. As the third largest emitter in the world, India accounts for 6.65% of global emissions. Indian industries and businesses need to step up their efforts.

But Singh explains that the major factors driving the adoption of emission or renewable energy targets by top Indian companies is driven by external factors.

“Half of these companies are supplying to Wal-Mart, the tech companies are part of Microsoft and Dell supply chain, so the impetus for change comes from there,” said Singh. Another factor driving the shift is the push from investors. Big investors like Blackrock and Vanguard are pushing companies to disclose climate risk. Finally, for the Indian companies that want to access global consumers and markets, taking steps to address climate change is essential.

Experts express the view that the government must be aggressive in designing policies so that the industry and companies may be urged to do more to slow down the global warming.

“The government needs to start communicating the national climate plans to India Inc and initiate discussions on mechanisms to allocate and track emission reduction goals across the economy,” said Masood Mallick, managing director, ERM in India that partnered with CDP India for the 2017 report Policy signals are important to ensure industry remains aligned to national goals.

“Government’s role is irreplaceable in creating markets for climate action. The PAT schemes, solar and wind energy upscale, EV 2030 target, and the recent announcement to replace all government vehicles with EVs in the next three to five years generate the necessary demand for low carbon solutions at huge scales in a short time,” said CII director-general Chandrajit Banerji.

The government must also focus on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which form the industrial backbone of the country. Rita Roy Choudhury, assistant secretary-general, Ficci, said the government must design policy solutions that would help MSMEs access finance and technology and build capacity to address climate risk.

Another aspect of the government being aggressive in its approach towards achieving the target is it should not wait for the market forces to take its course.

One area the government should step in is enabling faster adoption of renewable energy. Rather than waiting for the market to take its course, the government should smoothen policies across states and remove the obstacles being raised by incumbent companies so that corporations can make the switch to renewable energy and help India achieve its nationally determined contributions,” said Anirban Ghosh, vice president, sustainability, Mahindra & Mahindra.

According to Roy Choudhury, who is FICCI's point person on environment and sustainability, the government must design policies “ that will scale up innovations that are already taking place and facilitate market creation for climate mitigation business models.”

Another idea is to make available climate-friendly technology in particular.Industry representatives said in order to scale up efforts to address climate change efforts, challenges such as the availability of climate-friendly technology, finance and capacity building need to addressed. This would include innovative financial mechanisms such as green bonds and deployment and commercialisation of technologies in renewables as well as conventional sources.

Another issue that Banerji said is a challenge and requires government intervention is “the availability of low-emission technology free of intellectual property rights, which is an essential requirement for industries to reduce greenhouse gases”. When it comes to regulations, industry advises caution, stressing that timing is the key to success. “Government intervention through regulation is most effective when the solution or alternative is a no-brainer or on the cusp of becoming a no-brainer,” said Ghosh.

Elucidating, the Mahindra sustainability chief said a policy or regulation that makes LEDs the only option would be successful because buyers can only benefit by buying LED bulbs. “In making a regulation, the government needs to ensure that viable alternatives exist. This will ensure successful implementation,” said Ghosh. Most critically, industry leaders said policy consistency over the long term is important for a healthy transition to a low carbon future.

 


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