As India continues to experience the impacts of climate change in the form of changing rainfall patterns, heat waves, and coastal flooding, businesses are increasingly recognizing the need to mitigate and adapt. The problem is that many lack guidance on where to begin.
The India Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Program, launched in July 2013, aims to offer a meaningful starting place by providing a standardized method for companies to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions. Conceived in partnership with WRI, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the program provides Indian businesses with tools and technical assistance to measure their emissions, identify reduction opportunities, establish short and long-term reduction goals, and track their progress based on the GHG Protocol, the most widely used emissions accounting and reporting standard in the world.
We spoke with Vivek Adhia, a Senior Associate with WRI India’s Climate and Energy program, to better understand how the India GHG Program can help businesses reduce their emissions in an environment that is increasingly vulnerable to climate impacts.
1. What climate change challenges does India face?
It is difficult to quantify the expected impact of climate change. However, a recent World Bank study estimates that developing countries like India will need between $70 and $100 billion per year through 2050 to meet current and future climate adaptation needs. Current spending is approximately $4.4 billion, a huge gap that shows how developing countries’ are poorly prepared to overcome their adaptation challenges.
And India is a country that’s quite vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Challenges involving water availability, changing rainfall patterns, resilience capabilities, and disaster management are already emerging. These challenges will impact coastal areas, regions located at the base of the Himalayas that are experiencing increased glacier melting, and riverbeds. A recent study by the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) shows that climate change has already directly impacted more than 27 percent of the country’s total geographical area.
These impacts hold serious implications for communities, businesses, and for the country’s future growth and development.
2. What role does the corporate sector play in these challenges?
Business is not only essential for continued economic growth in India, but also has the greatest opportunity for large-scale emissions reductions—which can help mitigate the worsening impacts of climate change. Efforts such as conducting a GHG inventory of their operations, mapping of the supply chain, and investments in efficiency improvements yield quick paybacks and generally correlate to improved overall operations.
India’s government is also increasingly recognizing both the opportunity and urgency of business action on climate change. India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) is arguably one of the strongest responses to climate change by any developing country. The country has already achieved emissions intensity reductions of 17.6 percent between 1990 and 2005 and has committed to reducing its emissions intensity by 20-25 percent by 2020 from a 2005 baseline. Energy efficiency regulations and policy measures are also emerging, such as the Perform Achieve Trade (PAT) Scheme (which is expected to facilitate roughly $5.4 billion in efficiency investments), regulated carbon dioxide emissions in the telecom and aviation sectors, and overall corporate responsibility in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
In short, the corporate sector is essential for sustained action on climate change. It is important that the sector has the tools to seize opportunities, comply with new regulations, and implement needed operational changes.
3. How can the India GHG Program help reduce corporate emissions?
Currently, a wide disparity exists when it comes down to the capacity of companies to respond to climate change and leverage related opportunities. Some sectors—such as cement and steel—are more advanced in improving their specific energy consumption, controlling their GHG emissions, and incorporating low-carbon planning into operations and product development. Others—like power generation—require the introduction of innovative, industry-specific inputs in terms of technological, regulatory, and financial support to get to the same level of operational efficiency. Additional differences result from regulations placed on sectors such as aviation and telecom.
The India GHG Program aims to assist all facets of India’s corporate sector in achieving emissions reductions and improving operational efficiency. The Program will develop an internationally consistent and locally relevant GHG measurement and accounting framework based on the GHG Protocol. It will act as a center of excellence on GHG management in India, providing an array of services to industry, including: training and capacity-building, pragmatic tools, data analytics and benchmarking, as well as compiling sectoral, industrial, and regional best practices that can inform other initiatives. The powerful partnership of WRI, TERI, and the CII will bring support and insights on actual business solutions to enable member organizations to realize the value in measuring and reducing their GHG emissions.
4. How is it unique from other tools out there?
First, its collaborative support from WRI, CII, and TERI brings unmatched expertise and knowledge in the area of GHG management. Second, as a voluntary, industry-led program, it is the ideal platform for promoting collaboration and cross-industry experience-sharing. Lastly, the GHG help desk and ability to interact with experts who possess a deep functional and industrial knowledge enables the program to claim the space as a key center of excellence on greenhouse gas management.
5. Where can businesses access these tools and get more information?
Further information about the India GHG Program—in addition to tools and resources customized for Indian businesses— are available on our new website.