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Climate concern: India Inc needs govt push

Many in corporate India believe only a government regulation will put environmental concerns on top of India Inc’s mind Kiran Wadhwa.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2008 01:35 IST
Kiran Wadhwa

Many in corporate India believe only a government regulation will put environmental concerns on top of India Inc’s mind. This follows a survey by consultancy services major KPMG that showed a glaring gap between the corporate world’s good intentions and actions with regard to the environment.

KPMG surveyed 70 business leaders in India at the CEO level from various companies in the automobile, retail, power, media, insurance and other sectors. An overwhelming 83 per cent said that they had a fair understanding of climate change issues, but only 21 per cent have actually measured carbon emissions of their firms.

“The disparity between intention and action is because of a lack of mandate by the government. We constantly advise companies to cut emissions because once a regulation comes in, there will be no way out,” said Suman Majumdar, Sustainable Development Wing, Confederation of Indian Industry.

Environmental organisations agree with the survey. “As of now, there is a whole lot of talk and very little action in the corporate world,” said Vinuta Gopal, climate change campaigner, Greenpeace. “At some point fossil fuel is going to become a very expensive and Indian businesses will have to find an alternative. Abroad, companies are a lot more committed to reduce their carbon footprints.”

“Mere good intentions with regard to environment awareness is not enough, a structured plan is needed. The first step to the process is measuring the current carbon footprint,” said Arvind Mahajan, National Industry Director, KPMG. “Since there are no compulsory regulatory measures that binds companies to take energy saving measures, everything is a voluntary measure.”

Europe has a target to reduce carbon emissions from the 1990 levels by 20 per cent. Also, energy efficiency comes with big investment and no immediate profitability. India is currently the fifth largest carbon emitter in the world.

Most companies look climate issues as a social responsibility, but it is also a business opportunity. The global market for energy efficient technologies is estimated to be $3 trillion by 2050.

Companies in developed countries have measured and announced their baseline carbon footprint, and also their reduction targets over 5 to 10 year periods.

But with Indian businesses, it is rather dismal — 38 per cent of respondents have no goals whatsoever with regards to carbon emissions. About 41 per cent at least have some quantified plans for carbon emission reduction to be achieved by 2010.