NetZero: Creating a Climate of Change calls for collective action | The Financial Express

NetZero: Creating a Climate of Change calls for collective action

It is tempting to view net zero as shorthand for a New India; after all, net zero can lead to clean and secure energy, hasten sustainable and circular business, and empower communities.

NetZero: Creating a Climate of Change calls for collective action
The Net Zero commitment by nations and large companies has led the way for fast tracking the journey towards addressing climate change.

By Dharashree Panda

The world, as we know, has undergone immense changes over the last decade having battled economic crisis, emergence of the startup culture and the pandemic among the many. However, one recurring theme which has emerged is the immediate need to build sustainability in all value chain practices. The Net Zero commitment by nations and large companies has led the way for fast tracking the journey towards addressing climate change. It is tempting to view net zero as shorthand for a New India; after all, net zero can lead to clean and secure energy, hasten sustainable and circular business, and empower communities. It necessitates the need for larger participation and collaboration from all stake holders governments, private sector and the civil society. Over the last 26 years, COP has taken giant strides. The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP27- seeks to deliver action on issues critical to tackling climate emergency. India as the world’s largest democracy and the fastest growing economy has set audacious goals of becoming net zero by 2070 in last year’s COP and this year India has created a roadmap and has zeroed in on six key areas to reduce net emissions, including electricity, urbanization, transport, forests, finance, and industry. India has also called for a fair and just transition to Net Zero and has emphasized the need for investments and financing needed to create the shift away from fossil fuels entirely.

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This commitment requires urgent action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience, steadfast policies to reach net zero by 2070, adopting strong measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change as well as adapt to the inevitable impacts of global warming that’s already locked in, deliver staunch financial support to climate action commitments and transform agriculture and food systems. If it is a truism that a carbon-free future is the world’s greatest collective challenge, then it follows that moving fast to contain the rise in global temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the global consensus, is critical. As a youthful creator of an e-commerce eco-system, we know about moving fast and have stepped up on this through strong partnerships with ecosystem stakeholders.

Also read| India’s Net Zero strategy: India can be a role model for developing countries

That makes the next few years critical for our country, our companies, and our e-commerce industry. Here are a couple of positive portends. First, India’s record on rolling out renewables has been exceptional and today our solar and wind energy is among the cheapest in the world. But massive financing is needed – $223 billion according to think-tank BloombergNEF – to meet the wind and solar build out for net zero by 2030. Second, India last year ranked highest among emerging markets for energy transition investment as investors returned from the Covid lull; today eight global sovereign wealth funds hold positions in Indian clean power providers .

As we consider the work ahead, there are parallels between our industry’s lightning-pace emergence in India and what is required for India to transition to clean-energy: resourcefulness, entrepreneurialism, and technology-enabled innovation. This transition will be a journey especially for Indian businesses that either commit in good faith or to imminent mandatory measuring, monitoring, and managing of their climate compliance under the environment, social, governance (ESG) regime. There are multiple interventions needed for a holistic transformation. Business, industry, and country will require infrastructure upgrades, more renewables, break-through technologies, smart home- and office-powered electrification, grid-scale battery storage, and the software to make the entire transition seamless and adoption of low-carbon manufacturing.

E-commerce has a long tail of mutually dependent parties; it is axiomatic, then, that net zero rests on collaboration with this chain of suppliers, sellers, buyers, transportation and logistics, and end-of-life product issues, such as waste. As an industry we must rethink how we source, buy, and consume products so as to achieve a measure of sustainability. This is a worthy and necessary goal and increasingly it makes commercial sense too. That’s why sustainable business must become a collective responsibility

The scope for collaboration is deep, right across our value chain. As e-commerce deepens in more ways into our daily lives, so do the challenges. Yet emissions need not persist or even rise if we work well with our suppliers and sellers, and, critically, leverage the scale, innovation, talent, and technology that comes with being big.

We are confident that this depth of business transformation is possible, and can be achieved with a collaborative industry-wide shift. As we have seen in past transformative collaborations between pioneers and policymakers, the first step needs to be a joint approach that locks policy and markets, incentives, and behavioral change into an extraordinary call for action.

Together, it adds up to a reasonably credible reckoning of the risk and opportunity of energy transition in India. The prospect of a Clean India and a New India could indeed be coming into view. So, what will our industry look like in 2030, the target date for cutting emissions entirely from our group operations and a decade later throughout our value chain? It could resemble a genuinely circular and regenerative micro-economy; sustainability will be inseparable from these ambitions.

(The author is Director, Sustainability, at Flipkart. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).

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First published on: 07-12-2022 at 10:14 IST