Climate action: Sustainability path is paved with tech

There’s need for a model of development that aids in optimum resource use, harnessing the best of available technologies

Climate action: Sustainability path is paved with tech
As the world’s third-largest energy-consuming country, 80% of India’s energy demand is currently fulfilled by coal, oil and solid biomass.

By Rajesh Rege

Until very recently, sustainability did not gain currency as a defined corporate objective across a majority of industrial sectors. However, as leaders began to look more closely at the unpredictability of the extraneous environment and realised that success will be increasingly defined by agility and resilience of business models, sustainability turned into a strategic business imperative.

A pathway to transition
Economic growth is deeply linked to energy availability. The extent of energy utilisation as a driver of economic outcome, in turn, impacts resource availability. This is particularly true for India, which is projected to be the world’s most populous country in a few years. As the world’s third-largest energy-consuming country, 80% of India’s energy demand is currently fulfilled by coal, oil and solid biomass.

In the past few years, however, India has been quick to infuse new thinking into creating a sustainability-focused framework. At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the Indian government set a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2070 and switch 50% of its energy requirements to renewable resources by 2030.

The decade of action
With rapid population growth, India’s pace of urbanisation will likely outstrip the rest of the world. The immediate need, therefore, is a development model that aids in optimum resource utilisation – harnessing the best of available technologies. For instance, according to the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), the demand for cooling in terms of tons of refrigeration is expected to grow around three times by 2027 over the 2017 baseline. Yet, most of the cooling industry continues to depend on high global warming potential (GWP) coolants. By signing the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the government has been clear in its intent to change this. However, it will require concerted efforts from all industry stakeholders.

Fossil fuels account for around 98% of India’s fuel requirements in the road transportation sector. We are currently looking at alternatives such as agricultural waste and lean organic feedstocks to make bio-fuels. Green aviation fuels sourced from sustainable sources have already been developed and are key to reducing the industry’s emissions by 60-85%. Going beyond fuels, in a sector like aviation, software analytics can optimise aircraft operations and routing, saving up to 5% of energy use per flight. Electric and hybrid electric aircraft systems can reduce fuel use and emissions. In airport operations, predictive analytics can reduce energy costs by as much as 20% for existing building management systems.

Smarter choices for tomorrow
Today, the energy and clean tech sectors, as well as the utility industry, are key to cities and industrial hubs achieving net-zero targets and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, through decarbonising and investment in innovative alternatives. It is, therefore, imperative we plan for a clean and sustainable ecosystem for our future generations.

The writer is president, Honeywell India

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