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Transition plans of Indian corporates to ensure net zero, will make business sense

A note on 
UNFCCC Executive Secretary's address at an exclusive session on India’s Vision for Climate Action: Embracing the Global Perspective organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Chennai:
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“This year, July has been the hottest month in our history. We expect the next year to be hotter with every year, new records being broken. This is going to be the new norm as we tackle how to align the rising temperature and remain within the 1.5-degree Celsius target. We are currently at 1.1 degrees Celsius world with floods, droughts, heat, and vector borne diseases being witnessed every day in many parts of the world. Keeping this in mind, COP 28 to be held in Dubai this year will be the most significant COP since the 2015 Paris Agreement. What makes this exceptional is what we call the global stock take, wherein we would be taking a backward reflection on where we are, our goals, our aspirations, and targets,” said Mr Simon Emmanuel Kervin Stiell, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in his special address at the exclusive session on India’s Vision for Climate Action: Embracing the Global Perspective organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Chennai.
“As we take stock of where we are, it is evident there are many gaps that needs to be filled. The global stock take gives us this opportunity to respond to those gaps and the pathways to course correct ourselves from the 1.5-degree Celsius world that we are moving towards by 2050 to a 1.1 degree Celsius. Questions that needs to be addressed are “What should we need to do to reduce emissions, what can be done to reduce loss and damage, how do we provide access to finances to make the changes that we need to bring us back to course. Now, that we know the challenges and the opportunities that are in front of us, can we get 197 countries who are party to the Paris Agreement to agree within the negotiated process on those actions that are needed for this reset,” Simon Emmanuel pointed out.
“We have work cut out for us for COP 28 at Dubai. We look at our respective Governments for leadership, and there is a fundamental responsibility that lies there. There is this inter-governmental process that we have that demonstrates that we are far from there,” he added.
Addressing the business community, he said, “Within the business community, the terms of actions you can take, the leadership you can demonstrate in your own business, these are not only in the interests of your shareholders and customers but also in terms of sustainability, responsibility to environment and climate and that opportunity is presented to each of you. As we transition into this new economy that is thought on sustainable principles and doing the right thing, presents opportunities to improve your bottom line, create new jobs, new financial streams, new economic opportunities”.
“We want businesses to work on what you are doing, what targets you are setting, what transition plans you are putting in place to ensure we not only meet net zero commitments but also makes business sense. India’s level of ambition, energy, positivity that exists within the business community and government level is visible and we would like UNFCCC to work together and better,” he concluded.
“Renewable energy is more cost effective and business houses have embraced this largely. A recent study by CII shows India Inc has made significant efforts to integrate sustainable business practices into the operations of companies. There are 147 Indian companies that have committed to science-based targets and 56 out of these have also come up with net zero emission targets. This is bound to increase with corporate governance and their customers also expect them to follow suit. In 2021, Rs.5400 crore was spent by leading companies to look at reducing 5.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions,” said Mr Srivats Ram, Vice Chairman, CII Tamil Nadu State Council & MD, Wheels India Ltd.
“While consumption of renewable energy is likely to grow, manufacturing companies need to look at process changes to reduce the amount of emissions generated, with energy sources needing to change and manufacturing to become more energy efficient. To support this, the Government of India has unveiled the green hydrogen project last year and the FAME India policy too. As the Indian industry is picking up steam, one of the challenges is to implement this across the board and take MSMEs along,” he pointed out.
“The UNFCCC is leading this entire global combat and consensus building against climate change. The G20 also plays a vital role in shaping up climate conversations across the world and its adoptions. There have been progressive conversations on how we can support climate finance and mitigation finance. Most of the corporates have some sort of commitments and have excelled in looking at their own processes in terms of climate change. Sadly, only 9% of India’s CSR is moving towards climate change. Climate change is an urgent issue and it is imperative that we see if we can support grants and mechanisms for this initiative,” Mr Kavin Kumar Kandasamy, CEO, Proclime said in his theme address.
“Statistically, India contributes only 7.5% of the global emissions though it contributes to 17% to the global population. Though India compared to other countries is in a better place, the country needs to proactively look at how it can reduce its emission target by 2070,” he pointed out.
The half-day session concluded with a fireside chat between Mr Simon Stiell and Mr Kavin Kumar wherein, Mr Stiell answered questions on climate finance, accessibility, high costs of certifications, government commitments, leadership and lastly, the commitment made by the member donors towards contributing $100 Billion towards this cause. Incidentally, $100 billion is not sufficient and the required funds would run to several trillion dollars.

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