There was widespread agreement at the Climate Week NYC (New York City), organised by the UN and the City of New York, in September about countries needing to step up action if any tangible results in climate change mitigation are to be achieved. As seen by the increasing engagement of Japanese companies in climate action, private player participation was also important this year.
Perhaps the biggest development since last year was the intensity and clarity in ‘energy transition’ conversations. Options of using biofuel and hydrogen to power ships and airplanes were discussed, the details of which can be found in the report, Mission Possible. Also, the ‘Climate Seven’ — seven corporations from across the world, including four from India — launched the ‘Cooling Challenge’. This commits to the challenge of adopting the best cooling technologies to bring down the power consumed and carbon emitted by cooling processes.
On the eve of Climate Week, 87 MNCs — with a combined worth of $2.3 trillion, and direct emissions equal to 73 coal-fired power plants — including four India-headquartered ones, announced they would set science-based climate targets aligned to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5° C, and reaching net-zero by no later than 2050. This is over and above the 550-plus companies who have already committed to align their emission reduction goals to the Paris Agreement.
Effective climate action will require extensive collaboration. The governments of India and Sweden, for instance, have announced that they will launch a ‘Leadership Group’ within the industry track to provide a platform for governments and the private sector to cooperate in technology and innovation. This will help develop low-carbon pathways for industry. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also announced that India would launch a ‘Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure’, inviting UN member states to join this group.
In India, the war against single-use plastics is truly on. The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) has been triggered and enabling policies put in place. The LED (light-emitting diode) revolution has moved into a new gear with energy-efficient air-conditioners and motors being the next big things. The transition from biomass-burning to the use of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), from fossil fuel to compressed natural gas (CNG) and biofuel continues steadily. Better use of water, creation of an ecosystem for better waste management and the development of a circular economy are other areas in focus. But all this is not enough. If climate action is to be effective, we have to adopt different ways of doing things to build a low-carbon economy. This presents India with one of the greatest business opportunities it has ever had — to reboot the global economic engine by creating solutions for a low-carbon pathway.
We need batteries that last longer, ships that run on hydrogen, planes that run on biofuel, buildings that are net-positive, agriculture that needs less water, reduced methane emission from cattle, biodegradable plastic, flexible solar films and much more, if we have to keep temperature rise below 1.5° C.
This article originally appeared in the Economic Times.
ARTICLE BY :
Anirban is the Chief Sustainability Officer at the Mahindra Group. He has been a speaker at COP25, The Climate Week, World Circular Economy Forum, to name a few. He has, in partnership with the World Bank, facilitated the creation of the Sustainable Housing Leadership Consortium to accelerate the spread of green buildings in India.