How India Inc can lead Bharat to net-zero?

The social aspects of ESG

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Map your sustainability goals to help India achieve its Net Zero commitments, find out where to begin the journey.

India’s journey towards net-zero so far has been full of ups and downs. Take India’s announcements at the COP26 Meet in Glasgow for example. On the one hand, India announced its aggressive renewable energy commitments by 2030, wowing the world at large. On the other hand, India committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, two decades later than the developed world, drawing the ire of many climate change activists. 

At DNV, we attempted to understand India’s tumultuous path to net-zero in depth. We compiled our findings in our Pathways to Net Zero Emissions report. According to our report, India is expected to reach net zero by 2070, which is significantly later than the developed world. This is due to the unique set of circumstances prevailing in the country that make it extremely challenging for it to transition to net-zero. In our opinion, to prevail over India’s unique set of challenges, India’s corporate sector will need to be the frontrunners of India’s net-zero mission. 

India Inc is stepping up, but is it enough? 

India Inc will have to solve the key challenge to reduce India’s high dependency on fossil fuels. While fossil fuel consumption will reduce significantly by 2050, it will still be significantly high. In our Pathways to Net Zero Emissions report, we found that India will consume 26% of its power needs from coal, natural gas, and oil by 2050. 

India Inc can reduce this dependency on fossil fuels by investing significantly in renewable energy. As per our predictions in our Pathways to Net Zero Emissions, by 2050, the Indian subcontinent will be one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy. For example, by 2050, India is expected to have the second-largest share of the world’s grid-connected solar at 21%, after China. 

Many Indian companies including hard-to-abate industry sectors like aluminum, steel, cement, construction, maritime, etc. recognised this challenge of fossil fuel dependency years in advance. They set ambitious emission reduction targets and took giant strides to accelerate their achievement before net-zero movement became mainstream for masses. However, the real net-zero movement for India Inc is still in its infancy today. The number of companies with concrete, actionable roadmaps for tackling Scope3 emissions are far too few. 

On a positive note, steps such as BRSR or Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report and digitisation of ESG and sustainability performance data will lead to many more companies taking their first steps towards decarbonisation. As the larger set of corporate population set forth on their path of energy transition, reduction offset, they must establish actionable roadmaps with granular monitoring system to remain on the net-zero trajectory. 

Without ambition and planning, India Inc may fall short. 

Achieving net-zero takes years of meticulous planning and execution. But companies that undertake the journey to net-zero seriously will be paid off handsomely in the near future. By reducing their emissions fast, companies can score high on the ESG performance charts, attract more investments, enhance their reputation and even increase sales. 

Thus, to reap maximum rewards from net-zero India Inc need to be very ambitious without which they will not achieve the goal on time. With a carefully planned roadmap, companies can hit aggressive net-zero milestones and unlock the full scope of benefits associated with achieving net-zero. While planning their path to net-zero, companies must holistically assess their emission levels from assets such as buildings, factories, and transportation resources. 

Eventually, companies will have to transition to sustainable infrastructure soon. Whether intelligent office buildings with smart lighting solutions, green factories with negligible emission levels, or renewable power sources, India Inc will have to spearhead the phasing out of fossil fuel-dependent infrastructure in the coming decades. India Inc also has to take advantage of new renewable technologies such as electric vehicles and hydrogen. 

Another onerous challenge that large Indian companies will face in their net-zero journey will be reducing their scope 3 emissions. The primary source of scope 3 emissions is the thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that form the backbone of the Indian economy. Most of these businesses are vendors or customers of large enterprises. 

With outdated manufacturing technologies highly dependent on fossil fuels, these businesses will have to either shut shop or spend an exorbitant amount of money on upgrading to green technologies. It would take monumental efforts from large enterprises to collaborate with these businesses to reduce emissions levels across the value chain. The government will also have to assist in easing the pain of businesses that succumb during this transition phase. 

Given the complexities involved in drawing a roadmap to net-zero, it is clear that this process will exhaust a company’s focus and resources. Indian companies will have to engage stakeholders at every level, spend money on energy and emission audits and invest in the augmentation of sustainable infrastructure. However, by hiring sustainability experts with strong technical knowledge of these issues, India Inc can seamlessly plan for its sustainability goals and reap maximum benefits in its net-zero journey. 

Accelerating net-zero goals with DNV 

With a presence in more than 100 countries, DNV has accumulated extensive experience across various renewables and energy efficiency domains. DNV provides a vast suite of services such as energy audits, intelligent lighting solutions for buildings, carbon emission reduction advisory, energy efficiency excellence advisory, and many more to corporate customers. With DNV’s expertise, companies across the globe can create ambitious plans to achieve net-zero and take necessary action to achieve milestones along the net-zero journey.

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