This article was orginally published in SQ - Raising the Sustainability Quotient. It is co-authored by Pankaja Balaji and Chirag Gajjar
India GHG Program – An industry led leadership platform for driving Low Carbon Growth
Internationally, the movement for sustainable business practises and carbon neutrality has gained steady momentum. This has led to the development of a plethora of tools and methodologies to achieve low-carbon development. In India, the challenge arises not in replicating these positives trends but in adapting it to suit the Indian scenario.
India’s 12th Five Year Plan in addition to the National Action Plan on Climate Change, and the Planning Commission’s report on Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth, opened up an opportunity to act on creating an industry wide system for emissions accounting and management. The India GHG Program was launched to do just that.
Since its conception in 2013, the India GHG Program has acted as a ‘Centre for Excellence’ combining the expertise and recognition provided by three national stalwarts, WRI India, TERI and CII. These organizations have come together to provide a platform where it is possible to engage with peers and experts on how to improve organizational resilience and profitability, as climate change threats to the bottom line become more evident.
The call to climate action is stronger than ever before. Many national governments, businesses, and civil society, are actively working at the international, national and sub-national levels to adopt a low-carbon growth pathways. The India GHG Program is attempting to help Indian business adopt this trajectory, by assisting companies to measure and manage their GHG emissions. Being a voluntary programme, member companies determine their own emission targets and timelines based on company specific data.
The vision of the programme is to create a culture of GHG inventorization and benchmarking within the nation based entirely on India-specific data and collected using a multi-stakeholder process. The end goal is to have businesses in India follow a standardised methodology for emission reductions. As of today, the program’s 40 plus members have a collective market cap in the range of USD 112 billion and manage a compiled GHG inventory ranging from 350 to 360 tCO2e.
Key Programme Elements
The programme’s 4 pillars - institutional capacity building; internationally recognized and locally relevant GHG measurement and accounting tools; peer engagement; industry-specific benchmarking and best practices and policy engagement make it a key center of excellence on greenhouse gas management. Underlining all of these is the voluntary nature of the programme which affords its members many flexibilities.
Despite the lack of a regulatory mandate, the member companies have shown ambitious levels of commitment, accountability and transparency in their engagement with the programme. In return the program ensures complete support for its members via its tools and expertise available through different mediums throughout the process of inventorying emissions, analysing data, setting targets and achieving them.
Tools and How to Use Them
The program’s Do-It-Yourself GHG Accounting tool is a stellar example of this, available on the official website - the tool helps corporate leaders in decision making and emissions reporting. Members can also find resources for suitable to their needs. The program strives to customize the international tools for the Indian context through a working group set up for different sectors.
In addition, at its recent Annual Summit- India Business and Climate Summit, 2015, it launched two India specific tools new tools. The first was the Emission Factors for Road, Rail and Air, the need for which was felt strongly since international values were skewing emissions estimation by at-least 20-30 percent. This prevented accuracy in the findings on-ground.
The other tool was customized India specific Power Sector Tool, which helps estimate emissions from power plants. Energy generation and consumption are the biggest contributors to the total GHG emissions. Hence it is absolutely essential that there is data on where and how it is possible to mitigate and manage these emissions in order to effectively minimize them.
Other than making available easy to use tools, the program has trained more than 300 individuals through cluster trainings and in plant workshops across cities and has bought to the Indian audience international expertise via its webinars. Currently the program is conducting working group meetings with various stakeholders from the heavy engineering and building sector to gauge what are the needs of the sector, in order to develop a roadmap for the sector. It is also beginning dialogues with stakeholders in the textile and chemical industries to gather an understanding of their needs.
Recognising Achievements and Building Strengths
In association with Delhi International Airport Limited and Jet Airways, the program published a best practices road map for the Indian aviation sector. This publication would help build awareness within the sector, of the opportunities and incentives available to them. A portion of this publication is also devoted to information of the policy climate-international and domestic vis-a-vis emission reductions. Conversations have been taking place, with stakeholders in other sectors as well about creating similar case studies. Business leaders feel strongly, that sharing achievements would incentivise scaling up of sustainability projects, as well as help newer entrants to see the benefits of engaging with emission reductions.
Addressing the National Discourse
Though working with organizations is integral to the program, it aims to create a culture of GHG accounting necessitates the need to involve themselves with policy makers. With Indian businesses taking their cue from government regulations, businesses wish for guiding frameworks to come from policy. Chirag Gajjar shares “We at the program are thrilled to find recognition from Govt. of India in its official #INDC submission to UNFCCC. The recognition gives an impetus to efforts of the program to develop India specific tools and support organizations in India”
Beginning with 28 founding member companies - ITC Limited, ACC Limited, Infosys, Yes Bank Limited, Ambuja Cements Limited, HCC, Bangalore Int. Airport Limited, Delhi Int. Airport Limited Jet Airways (India) Limited, NTPC Limited Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited etc.; the programme has progressively added more industry giants to its list of member companies. However the endeavour is to keep make this list exhaustive. The programme is, at its core, a multi-stakeholder program which wishes to work with more and more organisations, an absolute necessity to build a more nuanced knowledge base and to develop accurate inventories and tools.
The program looks forward to join hands with more knowledge partners and member companies to build an industry wide, industry led pathway to low carbon development.