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CSR: Corporates step up to Climate Change

Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group committed the entire group to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)
2018 drew to a close with a hotly-contested ‘Katowice Climate Package’ finalised at COP24 establishing a set of guidelines to make the Paris Agreement operational by 2020.
It was also a year that saw extreme weather events cause devastation throughout most of the world as in India with unprecedented flooding in Kerala and hurricanes battering the east coast. Amid the cantankerous negotiations and human suffering, there were the green shoots of corporate and community actions.
Even as extreme weather and scientific reports caused deep concern, the world also witnessed clear and loud calls for increased ambition and action. The way forward is clear to CDP – to change trajectory sufficiently, we need nothing short of a transformation of the global economy.
While some continue to ignore the writing on the wall, many are stepping up to seize the initiative and find opportunities in the transition to the low-carbon future which is well underway. Driven by corporates, communities, cities and other “non-state actors”, exciting new endeavours have been showcased around the world.
Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, told the World Economic Forum (WEF): “Climate change is the next century’s biggest financial and business opportunity.” He committed the entire group to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), aligning their emission trajectory to meeting the Paris Agreement4.
This generated a global momentum to reach 500 companies committing to SBTs by the Global Climate Action Summit in September. Even though the “Mahindra Challenge”, as it came to be known globally, fell short of the target by five, it generated tremendous goodwill for corporates in general and Indian climate action in particular.
Indian companies are now at the forefront of this global fight where adopting SBTs is rapidly becoming the new norm for sustainable business practice. By December 2018, 25 companies committed to SBTs propelling India to the fifth position after US, Japan, UK, France in corporate climate action. Some industrial sectors have set global benchmarks.
Indian cement companies led by Dalmia Bharat have been rated as the best in the world. Many others have adopted ambitious renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency targets. The Indian Government too has been proactive especially in promoting RE domestically and internationally with the launch of the International Solar Alliance.
How can policy-makers and corporates boost these positive developments?
Natural resources are being consumed faster than their regeneration, threatening robust ecosystems. Investors are now more discerning.
The newly launched Investor Agenda8, led by CDP and six other groups, is enabling over 400 investors with US$32 trillion in assets under management to report actions they are taking on low-carbon investment, corporate engagement, transparency and policy advocacy. By focusing on sector-based disclosure and forward looking metrics CDP is providing companies and investors with meaningful and comparable data to drive greater progress.
At a time when there is a call for all countries to do more to fight climate change, India has stood up and informed the world at COP24 UN climate negotiations in Katowice that it will better its NDC targets. Companies too need to step up and support the global fight against climate change.