Call For Collective Action Towards A Sustainable FutureAnirban Ghosh
When the British ironmonger, Thomas Newcomen, shaped the first widely used steam engine in 1712, little did he know what he was putting on the boil. Coal, which lit many fires and fired the imagination of many, has become something man can’t do without and yet its use must be curbed, if not eliminated. We’ve already consumed half the carbon capacity of the atmosphere and experts say that we are on course to consume the other half by 2045.
But who will bell the cat? Those who have already made a large contribution to the carbon up in the air or those who are starting to make a larger contribution every passing day? Like most big problems, this is not an “either-or” situation. Those with large carbon footprints need to reduce it sharply and others need to find low-carbon ways of development.
It is simple, yet we squabble about who goes first. Probably because we don’t know whether we will really make enough of a difference. Some say that the technologies that will save us are either not here or are not developed sufficiently yet. All the more reason to say, “Let me do as much as I can possibly do right away.”
This is where corporate organizations can take the lead. Climate change related actions are often good for the bottom-line or help mitigate risk.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects help reduce operating cost and reduce emissions simultaneously. Making a location water secure ensures continuity of operations.
A ton of carbon saved today is more valuable than a ton of carbon saved tomorrow. Just like every dollar in an NPV calculation. It is in the interest of the corporation to act now and to act with scale. 90 corporations account for two-thirds of all man-made global warming emissions as per The Guardian (20th Nov., 2013). So corporate sector action will make a difference.
The governments have been talking for the last 20 years and have declared their intent through the INDC declaration for COP 21. But these don’t need to be limiting in their approach. Corporations can help governments achieve more and soon there may be light at the end of the tunnel. We usually talk about how much we are doing, but the real question to ask is, “Are we doing enough?”
Anirban Ghosh, Vice President – Sustainability, Mahindra Group.