Business and Climate Summit spurs business, government collaborationWe Mean Business coalition
The Business and Climate Summit 2017 in New Delhi, India has brought together business and government leaders from India and around the world with a spirit of learning and collaboration to tackle climate change.
The positive atmosphere of the event was tempered by the ongoing impact of floods across South Asia, as noted by Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“Right now, in Mumbai, Bangladesh and China, we see massive human and economic losses due to flooding. Many lives have been lost due to unprecedented extreme weather events,” she said.
However, the resounding support for climate action from India’s government representatives at the event ensured the conference was focused on driving momentum towards emission reduction goals.
“I assure you that India will never let you down on the issue of climate change as this is a part of our DNA,” Shri Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India said.
Vardhan also reminded the developed world of its commitment to the developing countries such as India ahead of the COP23.
“It is, however, also critical that equal focus is given to pre-2020 action by developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol. They must fulfil their commitments of providing effective finance, technology, transfer and capacity building support to developing countries,” the Minister said.
Espinosa echoed the sentiment, encouraging developed nations to back developing nations in achieving ambitious climate goals.
“All countries need to support countries like India in open access to finance, technology and building capacity for action as soon as possible,” she said.
In terms of India’s progress towards its renewable targets under its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Vardhan pointed out that more than 58 GW of installed capacity has already been achieved, towards its goal of 175 GW by 2022.
“India is also planning to establish a voluntary carbon market with the World Bank’s assistance to focus on uncovered areas,” Vardhan added.
To underline the strength of progress, Espinosa pointed out that India was the second most attractive country for renewable energy investment thanks to its ambitious targets plus policy certainty.
Business drives climate action
Meanwhile, the voice of business demonstrated the strong progress being made on addressing climate change and the business benefits of taking action.
“The corporate sector is recognising its responsibility and is demonstrating its keenness to collaborate,” Dr Mukund Rajan, Chairman, Tata Global Sustainability Council, Chief Ethics Officer & Head – International Operations, Tata Sons and Chairman of the FICCI Environment Committee, said.
He added that corporate social responsibility is increasingly being seen as a space where companies can collaborate with each other without losing their competitive advantage.
Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), highlighted the importance of working with supply chains to drive down emissions and the “ripple effect” that effective engagement can have.
Many business leaders also highlighted the role of innovation in finding climate solutions. For example, Mr Stefan Palskog, President from Scania India described the company’s plans to rollout biofuel buses in the Indian city Nagpur, powered by local waste.
Auto company Scania is a member of below50, led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which is committed to grow the market for the world’s most sustainable fuels.
Meanwhile several business leaders noted the scope for developing nations such as India to ‘leapfrog’ in terms of technology adoption of areas such as renewable deployment, electric vehicles and energy efficiency measures such as LED lighting.
Rajan used the example of the rapid rollout of mobile telecommunications in India to demonstrate the potential for low-carbon technologies to follow suit in fast growing markets.
Care was also taken during the summit to highlight the need to ensure the low-carbon transition is achieved without negatively impacting livelihoods through job losses.
“We need to make sure we deal with this transition properly as we will have to deal with issues of jobs,” Mr Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO and Managing General Partner at Michelin said.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the RE100 event in Delhi hosted by The Climate Group ahead of the main summit, we spoke to business leaders about the benefits they were realizing through climate commitments.
“Our vision is to be the leader in building materials and to create pride in all stakeholders through customer centricity, sustainability, innovation and values,” Mahendra Singhi CEO of Dalmia Cement, said.
“The more we focus on clean climate, the more we focus on renewable energy, the more we focus on using waste, it will also be making us more profitable and also more sustainable. Now sustainability is part and parcel of our DNA,” he added.
Dalmia is a member of RE100, led by the Climate Group in partnership with CDP, and EP100, led by the The Climate Group in partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy. It is also a member of the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiatives, led by the WBCSD.
Bose Varghese, Head of Green Initiatives at Infosys, spoke about the positive impact the IT major has seen on its decarbonization journey that saw it become the first Indian company to join RE100, in 2014, join the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition in 2016 and announce an internal carbon price in 2017.
“Since 2008, our program saved hundreds of millions of units of electricity and that translates into tens of millions of US dollars in cost saving and corresponding bottom line improvement,” he said.
The summit concluded with renewed enthusiasm for collaboration between government and business to find innovative solutions to urgent climate issues. It also re-affirmed India’s growing leadership in the global effort to tackle climate change.