Tata Group CSO on delivering bold climate action across India and beyondMr Siddharth Sharma, Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Tata Sons
As one of India’s largest and most diverse conglomerates, with annual revenues of over $110 billion, the Tata Group is uniquely positioned to help lead the fight against climate change and showcase the benefits of the low-carbon economy – both for India and the entire global economy.
The group has fully embraced this challenge as it looks to harness innovation to radically cut emissions across the wide variety of sectors it operates in, including steel, power, automobiles, chemicals, hospitality, consumer businesses, information and communication technology.
The Tata Group established a center of excellence (renamed Tata Sustainability Group) almost a decade ago to help address climate change. It has since introduced a two-tiered sustainability governance structure and worked on the group’s climate aspiration and strategy with the aim of being a global leader in combating climate change. To achieve this, the group is integrating climate change issues with the business strategy by focusing on three key aspects: mitigation, adaptation and responsible advocacy. Tata Sustainability Group has been underpinning this strategy through working to build a culture of low carbon and sustainability within the group.
This has included training more than two-hundred C-suite executives including CEOs and MDs, along with over 800 climate change ‘champions’, to lead the low-carbon transition across the group. All key companies are being encouraged to lower their carbon emissions to be in-line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and ultimately set a science-based emission reduction target (SBT). Tata Chemicals is leading the charge within the group, having already committed to setting an SBT. The transition to low-carbon pathways is further accelerated by adopting internal carbon pricing for making key business decisions. Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Tata Motors and Tata Global Beverages Limited have already started using an internal carbon price for their capex approval process.
As the world’s climate changes, Tata group recognizes the need to build resilience across its operations, supply chains and neighboring communities to future proof its businesses.
The group commissioned a study for the state of Gujarat where four major Tata companies are located, to understand climate risks to its businesses and their local communities going forward. The outcome of this study has been included in the company’s Enterprise Risk Management assessments.
A similar effort has been undertaken for key Indian states where Tata companies operate. Tata Global Beverages Limited carried out a study to understand how changing climates will affect their tea plantations in Assam and in Kenya. More recently, Tata Chemicals has undertaken a detailed study to understand the potential risks it faces due to changing climatic conditions and to identify measures the company needs to take to address these risks.
Climate change is a complex phenomenon and it can be tackled only by taking a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach. On the responsible advocacy front, Tata companies have been actively engaged with various organizations to help shape the discourse towards greater climate action. These organizations include the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; the Task-force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD); the World Bank’s Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition; the World Economic Forum – CEO Climate Leaders and the Energy Transitions Commission.
Powering the renewable future
Delving down into the individual companies shows the real depth and breadth of climate action across a wide variety of sectors, all with different challenges and opportunities.
One of the most striking opportunities for the group in terms of driving transformative change sits with Tata Power – India’s largest integrated power company.
Tata Power recently took the bold step of committing to stop building any new coal-fired power plants, as part of its ‘Strategic Intent 2025’ plan. The plan will see the company lead the nation’s renewable energy transition and targets 40-50% of power generation through non fossil-fuel sources by 2025.
As part of its drive towards renewable energy, Tata Power developed the world’s largest rooftop solar system of 12 MW for Radha Soami Satsang Beas Educational and Environmental Society, Punjab and commissioned India’s largest vertical solar farm for Dell, Bangalore. It also offers its customers various low-carbon solutions like Demand Side Management programs, Be Green, e-bills, Know Your Electricity Consumption, Wattloss Challenge & Doodle – Better earth’ contest.
Tata Power Club Enerji, a Resource Conservation Club driven by Tata Power in eleven cities across the country has educated more than 23.84 million people in India and saved more than 29.8 million units of energy thereby mitigating 28,000 tonnes of CO2.
Tata Steel builds a sustainable foundation
Tata Steel, which is one of the world’s ten largest steel companies by volume, has set an ambitious target to set the global industry benchmark in CO2 emissions by 2025. The company has implemented energy efficiency projects like top-gas recovery turbines in blast furnaces, coke dry quenching in coke ovens and multiple waste heat recovery projects in the last five years. To transition to a more circular route of steelmaking, a steel recycling business has been established to support clean scrap availability for Tata Steel’s Indian operations.
Tata Steel is a member of Ultra-Low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS), a partnership of 48 European organisations committed to reducing the carbon emissions of steel production by 50% by 2050. At the HIsarna pilot plant in IJmuiden, Tata Steel is using ground-breaking technology which can reduce CO2 emissions by 20%. The company is investing into the research and development of technologies for carbon capture and use and developing alternatives to carbon in the manufacturing process in order to transition to low-carbon steelmaking process.
Alongside these efforts,Tata Steel also actively contributed to the shared learning generated by the Energy Transitions Commission’s Mission Possible report, which demonstrated that it is technically feasible to fully decarbonize the steel industry by mid-century.
Tata Motors accelerates climate progress
Tata Motors – India’s largest automobile manufacturer – is seeking to both cut its own emissions and enable customers to join the effort by developing cutting-edge electric vehicles.
As part of its own emission reduction plans, in 2016 Tata Motors joined the RE100 initiative and committed to transition to 100% renewable electricity. Tata Motors is currently utilizing ~60 MW of renewable energy and plans to add another 9.5 MW of solar power this year taking the cumulative renewable capacity to ~70 MW.
Meanwhile, in conjunction with Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors is expanding its range of electric vehicles, which already features the Tiago and Tigor and is working closely with the Indian Government and other Tata companies to develop urban charging infrastructure. Following life cycle assessment for its vehicles, Tata Motors is focusing on developing a ‘closed-loop’ supply chain to reduce embedded emissions.
Tata Chemicals harnesses carbon capture and utilization
Tata Chemicals is aggressively seeking opportunities to reduce the carbon intensity for all its products through energy efficiency and is pursuing the use of renewable energy in its facilities and townships. Tata Chemicals plans to build Tata Group’s first industrial-scale carbon capture and utilization (CCU) demonstration plant to trap emissions for use in sodium carbonate manufacturing. The £16.7 million ($21.2 million) project will be located at the company’s Northwich industrial site in Cheshire, England and should start operations in 2021.
The group’s service sector focused companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are also taking substantive steps to decouple their energy consumption and carbon footprint from business growth. The company has added over 21 million square foot of green building space; significantly increased rooftop solar plants across campuses; optimized power usage in key data centers achieving a Power Utilization Efficiency (PUE) of 1.67 and enabled higher operational energy efficiency through an Internet of Things platform which employs machine learning based cognitive algorithms for real time energy monitoring and control.
Similarly, Tata Capital Ltd, a Tata Sons subsidiary, has set up a joint venture company with International Finance Corporation (IFC) to explore business opportunities in the clean technology space. The company, Tata Cleantech Capital Ltd (TCCL), has been providing funding and advisory services to small and mid-sized enterprises developing clean technology and renewable energy projects in India.
As these emission reduction efforts accelerate across all Tata Group companies, their cumulative impact will become increasingly significant and help provide industries around the world with valuable insights on how to transition to a cleaner planet.