With concerns over climate change—and industry’s contribution to it through carbon emissions—growing, many MNCs have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint. One such effort is RE100, a club of companies (including Unilever, SAP, Nestle, among others) committed to promoting use of renewable energy and turning carbon-neutral by 2018. Infosys recently became the club’s latest entrant, and its first Indian member. The company has committed R400 crore over four years—for installing solar power projects and bio-gas plants in rural areas, apart from distributing smokeless cooking stoves and undertaking afforestation activities—to offset the 3.74 lakh tonne of carbon dioxide emitted in the commuting and travel of its 1.8 lakh employees. The company had earlier committed to meet all its power needs from renewable energy, reduce its per capita power and water usage by half and turn fully carbon neutral by 2018—with the 2007-08 levels being the baseline for these targets.
Sustainability efforts fronted by companies could go a long way in mitigating climate change effects. For more companies to act in this direction, India needs a more encouraging policy environment. Infosys, as per a report in The Economic Times, believes meeting the deadline for renewable energy could be difficult, given the multiplicity of regulations on clean energy projects in each state. Infosys has earmarked 40 MW of the 55 MW solar power projects its plans to undertake this year for Karnataka, whose energy policy facilitates project implementation. If other states want to benefit from an Infosys’s efforts, they too would need to offer comparable, even competitive, ease for project implementation. Apart from this, India would also need to foster open carbon markets like China and Australia have done. That could also make, to some degree, reducing emissions commercially viable for companies, as well.