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India Inc rises to take on green challenge

It adds that 48% of Indian consumers agree that companies can do more than governments to change the world.

India Inc rises to take on green challenge
Mintel’s Global Consumer Trends for 2023 suggest consumer behaviour around intentional spending is influenced by factors like flexibility, durability and sustainability.

Even as the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC – COP27) is underway in Egypt, India is well committed to embrace sustainability across industries, with a number of targets to making environmental sustainability and net-zero emissions achievable.

“Business is not only an indispensable partner in achieving sustainable growth, it is the primary engine to get there — both through behaviour change and with resources far exceeding government budgets. The private sector is central to driving ambitious national climate targets. The UN prioritises partnership with businesses of all sizes and in all sectors across India to achieve the national climate agenda,” said Shombi Sharp, UN resident coordinator in India.

Mintel’s Global Consumer Trends for 2023 suggest consumer behaviour around intentional spending is influenced by factors like flexibility, durability and sustainability. It adds that 48% of Indian consumers agree that companies can do more than governments to change the world. And the corporate world is well aligned to achieve their targets as businesses start moving from pledges and promises to action and disclosures.

Ernst & Young’s expected outcomes from COP27 include an action plan on visibility of deployment of $100 billion per year, provide a distinct roadmap for additional finance for ‘loss & damage’ and rejuvenating the carbon market with a result-oriented work plan. “Diversity, equity and inclusion will help apply innovative thinking,” said Chaitanya Kalia, partner & national leader, climate change & sustainability services, EY India.

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Global financial institutions like JP Morgan’s strategy include financing and investment solutions to help accelerate transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. JPMorgan Chase has set a target to finance and facilitate more than $2.5 trillion by the end of 2030 to advance long-term solutions that address climate change. 

“In 2021, JPMorgan Chase facilitated more than $100 billion for green activities like renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation, doubled our green investment banking activity and was the largest underwriter of green bonds. We help mobilise capital to reduce carbon intensity in oil and gas, electric power and auto manufacturing portfolios by 2030. We helped Indian issuers raise over $7.2 billion across green, social, sustainable and sustainability-linked bonds (SLB) issuances in 2021. We led India’s first SLB with a $400-million note for Ultratech Cement in 2021. This year, we have led three transactions in 2022 YTD, including Shriram Transport’s $475-million social bond, India clean energy’s $400-million green bond and Greenko Energy’s $750-million green bond,” said Kaustubh Kulkarni, senior country officer – India and vice-chairman, Asia Pacific, JP Morgan.

As part of managing indirect climate risks, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance launched an ESG-focused fund named ‘ICICI Prudential Sustainable Equity Fund’ last year. “As the first Indian insurance company to become a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), our commitment and ESG considerations is now an integral part of the investment framework. We saved 6,748 tonne of carbon footprint from FY2020 to FY2022 through initiatives directed at reducing energy consumption, water conservation and waste management,” said Judhajit Das, chief human resources officer, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.

The construction sector in India accounts for over 22% of yearly CO2 emissions from the overall Indian economy. Construction-related emissions can be reduced with the use of prefabricated components, and recyclable/reusable building materials. “Prefabrication has transformed the global construction sector to build structures and facilitated its evolution. India has a target of accomplishing net-zero by 2070 and requires adopting this to elevate construction practices. The materials used in construction may be reused to make buildings environmentally beneficial,” says Nikhil Bothra, director, Epack (PreFab), who has worked on airports under the UDAN scheme using prefab structures. Hindon airport in Ghaziabad is a case study in prefabricated buildings.

“Traditional materials like steel, cement, bricks and lime account for over 80% of construction-related emissions. We are working on techniques based on the use of alternate materials like geosynthetics that ensure energy-efficient infrastructure. The government has plans to expand the national highway network by 25,000 km in 2022-23 and development of roads, railways, airports, ports, mass transport, waterways and logistical infrastructure. We provide various solutions enabling the use of local material with low overall cost, eventually reducing carbon footprint by 40-60%,” adds Vikramjiet Roy, MD, Maccaferri India, which manufactures and supplies gabions and associated wire-mesh products to the global construction industry.

Consumer goods are becoming 100% plastic waste-neutral. Dabur became the first to collect, process and recycle around 27,000 mt of post-consumer plastic waste in India in 2021-22. “We have targeted to become plastic waste-positive by collecting, processing and recycling more plastic waste than the amount we sell in product packaging in a year. Our target is to collect 35,000 mt of post-consumer plastic waste and have already collected over 30,000 mt by November 2022. We have inducted EVs in our fleet for last-mile product distribution and become carbon-neutral by 2040,” said Mohit Malhotra, CEO, Dabur India. Dabur India aims to achieve net-zero in biodiversity by 2030 and become water-positive by 2030.

LNJ Bhilwara Group, a diversified group with presence in textiles, power generation, etc, through Bhilwara Energy, has commissioned two hydro and three wind power projects with two solar power plants in the planning phase in different parts of India, aggregating a total of more than 360 MW. As a result, the average annual GHG emission reduction of the group stands at 927,362 (tCO2e) and generates more than 1,200 million units of clean energy annually.

Mother Dairy is limiting plastic usage by replacing straws with paper. “Paper straws are four times more expensive. We are absorbing the increased cost and not planning to increase the price of associated products. Our token milk (branded loose milk) offering since 1984 has helped save approx 700,000 kg of plastic coming into the environment every year,” said Manish Bandlish, MD, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable.

Real estate players are building sustainable and net-zero projects for a reduced carbon future. A recent study by JLL, ‘Sustainable real estate: India’s response to a greener future’, states majority of occupiers (93%) agree that they proactively prioritise locations to reduce carbon emissions in the future and investors (65%) agree to prioritise investing in cities that are climate change progressive.

“According to the WEF, buildings account for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, 40% of raw material use. Thus, assessing and imbibing environmental, social and governance (ESG) into real estate and construction is paramount to be able to achieve their sustainability goals,” said Anshuman Magazine, chairman & CEO, India, South-east Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE, global leader in commercial real estate services and investments.

CBRE’s analysis of the certified built environment in India shows the past five years (2017-Q3 2021) have seen a pronounced push towards green buildings; the period saw a 37% increase in the supply of certified buildings, with the addition of about 78 million sq ft of certified stock, compared with the previous five years (2012-2016).

Green real estate assets in India have grown dramatically over the previous decade, with total office stock expanding to 31% as of September 2021 from 24% in 2011.

The real estate arm of the Mahindra Group, Mahindra Lifespaces, has launched net zero energy homes called Mahindra Eden in Bengaluru. The project incorporates climate responsive design and smart interventions to reduce energy demand by 33%, and will generate 5% of the energy requirement onsite with solar rooftop PV and small wind turbines.

Godrej Construction has recycled over 25,000 metric tonne of concrete debris by implementing circular economy principles in the construction materials line of business. Club Mahindra is undertaking the journey to carbon neutrality by 2040. Eight of the resorts are green-certified by IGBC platinum and all the resorts will get certified by 2025.

The Coca-Cola Company has partnered with Zepto in India to create a circular economy for plastic in the PET-recycling value chain. The partnership seeks to ‘collect back’ empty PET bottles of any brand from consumers. The initiative has been launched in select locations in Mumbai and will be scaled to other markets in India soon. The Coca-Cola Company’s World Without Waste initiative is aimed at finding solutions to global challenges of packaging waste, with an aim to design consumer packaging to be recyclable by 2025 and use 50% recycled material in all packaging by 2030.

Green Yodha is a flagship sustainability initiative by Schneider Electric India aimed at rallying businesses, institutions and like-minded individuals to ramp up the adoption of clean-energy, electrification, energy-efficiency and other climate-positive technologies. The brand educates, empowers and enables stakeholders on the impending climate crisis, highlighting the need to adopt sustainable business practices and creating a roadmap for them to start their sustainability journey. A country-wide yatra, which envisaged targeted outreach in Tier 2 cities inviting participation from sectors like healthcare, real estate, hotels, water, waste-water, food & beverages, pharma, power and grid. The initiative has reached out to state governments and connected with local policymakers and government officials in various industry associations, public works and utilities, for joining hands and bringing about transformation by driving sustainability.

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First published on: 13-11-2022 at 06:15 IST