The rise in climate consciousness among Indian companies is evident from the growing number of those committed to the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi). By 2020, 52 companies have committed to it, with a significant growth of more than 37% over 2019, according to the CDP, not-for-profit that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts.
India is now the leader from emerging economies for having the maximum number of companies committing to SBTi and globally it stands at the sixth position. Of the 52 committed companies, 22 have further approved SBTs in 2020 compared to 10 in 2019. The initiative champions SBT setting as a powerful way of future-proofing companies’ growth in the transition towards a low-carbon economy. The initiative’s overall aim is for SBT setting to become a standard business practice and for companies to play a major role in driving down global GHG emissions. Embedding SBTs as a fundamental component of sustainability management practices is crucial for achieving this.
What is a ‘Science Based Target’?
Science Based Targets are the GHG emissions reduction targets consistent with the level of decarbonisation that, according to climate science, is required to limit global temperature increase to 1.5-2ºC compared to pre-industrial temperature levels. Science Based Target ensures that the company is taking shorter-term action to reduce emissions at a pace that is consistent with keeping warming below 1.5º/ well-below 2º C.
What is SBTi?
The Science Based Targets initiative champions science based target setting as a powerful way of boosting companies’ competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy. It is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments.
What does SBTi do?
– Showcases companies that set science-based targets through case studies, events and media to highlight the increased innovation, reduced regulatory uncertainty, strengthened investor confidence and improved profitability and competitiveness generated by science-based target setting.
– Defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting with the support of a Technical Advisory Group
– Offers resources, workshops and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption
– Independently assesses and approves companies’ targets.
Top Indian companies reducing emissions with SBTi
These companies are leading the zero-carbon transition in India by setting emissions reduction targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
In October 2018, Wipro became the first Indian IT company to have its emissions reductions targets validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
Most of Wipro’s operations are in urban centres and its campuses are largely made up of offices and data centres. On site diesel-generated electricity makes up most of the company’s Scope 1 emissions, while its Scope 2 emissions come from electricity purchased from the grid. Scope 1 emissions have fallen by 68% since 2015, primarily due to a shift away from diesel-generated power in Chennai.
Since then, Wipro has cut emissions by implementing advanced water system controls and transitioning from leased to owned facilities, helping to consolidate the company’s use of office space and reduce its carbon footprint. Similarly, Wipro has reduced Scope 2 emissions by 54% since 2015, primarily from energy efficiency improvements in buildings.
Measures included server rationalisation and virtualisation programmes, replacing motors and drives, improving air conditioning fans, retrofitting, and procuring renewable energy in the form of power purchase agreements (PPAs). Wipro has increased renewable energy procurement through PPAs by 40% since 2015, according to CDP data. So far, the company has been successful in achieving 28% of its Scope 1 and Scope 2 science-based targets.
Wipro’s Scope 3 GHG emissions mainly consist of business travel and employee commuting. To address these, Wipro has improved access to public transport for employees, and launched a carpooling mobile app that has cumulatively saved over 2100 tonnes of CO2 equivalent since its inception. The company has also developed processes that enable remote working and collaboration. From these measures Wipro achieved an air travel footprint reduction of 21% between 2018-2019. Wipro has also adopted the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) standard for IT hardware procurement, which helped to bring down GHG emissions by a further 600 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019.
In July 2019, Wipro signed the 1.5⁰ C pledge and in the near future will align its science-based targets with a 1.5⁰ C scenario.
2. Mahindra and Mahindra
Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. (M&M) is the world’s largest producer of tractors, and the flagship company of one of the largest industrial federations in India. As a company operating in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, Mahindra and Mahindra’s operations are highly vulnerable to climate change and unpredictable weather events necessitating resilience planning. While M&M faces challenges from evolving sustainability requirements, it endeavours to stay ahead of the curve to address emergent climate-related situations.
Alongside 20 other Mahindra Group companies, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd has committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The company committed to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 47% per equivalent product unit by 2033 (using 2018 as a base year). Mahindra and Mahindra also committed to reduce Scope 3 GHG emissions by 30% per sold product unit by 2033 (using 2018 as a base year). The targets set are consistent with reductions required to keep warming to well-below 2°C.
“Using science-based targets are becoming mainstream business practice – because more and more companies, like ours, are recognizing that the transition to a low-carbon economy is a huge business opportunity as well as the only way to secure sustainable prosperity for all,” says Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mahindra Group.
In the financial year 2020, M&M’s Renewable Energy consumption was close to 18,317 MWh and their emissions decreased by 2,000 MtCO2 in the same year. Clearly, increasing deployment of renewable energy consumption has resulted in lower emissions for the company in 2020. Mahindra & Mahindra joined other initiatives as well and is the first global company to join the EP100 initiative, with a target to double energy productivity within the next 25 years.
M&M is also working on reducing emissions from transportation through load consolidation, route optimization and finding alternate modes of transportation. In 2020, the company increased its total renewable energy consumption by 16%. It has also increased its solar and wind power capacities to boost its green energy ratio in the power mix. The company’s green share has shown a steady increase from 2% in 2018, to 3% in 2019, and 4% in 2020. Mahindra and Mahindra ltd. has also marked an internal price on carbon at US$10, an important tool for lowering businesses’ carbon emissions and mitigating potential climate risk.
Mahindra & Mahindra is targeting carbon neutrality by 2040 and plans to enhance its renewable energy portfolio, promote adoption of alternate fuel technologies as well as integrate sustainable practices throughout the value chain. The company has already begun incorporating substantial changes across its operations and is adopting cleaner and greener processes, improving its energy and resource efficiency and increasing the share of non-fossil fuel renewable energy in the power mix.
3. Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL)
Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) specialises in zinc-lead mining and is one of the top ten silver producers globally. It prioritises the adoption of sustainable policies and conservation of scarce natural resources. HZL is a subsidiary of the Vedanta group. Meeting science-based targets in the context of a growing business can be difficult. Responding to this challenge, HZL has implemented a range of measures to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
Shifting from open cast mining to underground mining led to a significant saving in the consumption of high speed diesel, which resulted in emissions reductions of more than 68 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2018. HZL has also changed the brush seals of turbines and developed transformer taps to improve energy efficiency and reduce power consumption at all its thermal power plants; optimised the pressure settings of cement bulker-unloading compressors; and established more efficient cooling methods. The company has also advanced low-carbon energy by replacing compressors, switching from liquefied petroleum gas burners to electric heaters, installing LED lights, and modifying discharge lines.
To further address indirect emissions, HZL increased its renewable energy portfolio. The company commissioned a solar power plant with a 12 MW capacity at one of its zinc smelters, which is reducing HZL’s carbon footprint by approximately 14,000 MT a year. Similar renewable plants have increased the company’s clean energy capacity by 22 MW at its Rampura Agucha site and 4 MW at its Dariba site. Between 2017 and 2019, HZL increased its total renewable energy consumption by 48% and currently consumes 100% of its self-generated renewable energy. HZL’s shift towards green power generation has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 66,000 MT of CO2 equivalent a year.
4. UltraTech Cement
UltraTech Cement Limited is the largest cement company in India, with a capacity of 116.8 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). In addition to India, the company also operates in UAE, Bahrain and Sri Lanka. UltraTech Cement has remained committed to regular and transparent disclosures over the last few years and believes this helped it build and sustain trust among stakeholders.
Since 2013, the company has been measuring its carbon footprint and disclosing data through CDP’s environmental disclosure platform. CDP India’s SBTi Incubator helped UltraTech Cement map its science-based targets and the company finds CDP’s reporting platform ideal for measuring progress against climate targets.
Carbon performance is one of the key pillars in UltraTech Cement’s sustainability strategy, focused on meeting short, medium and long-term climate targets over a 15-year timeframe. To achieve this vision, the company committed to the SBTi in July 2020, submitting targets for validation in November 2020. In March 2021, UltraTech Cement became the second Indian cement company to have its emissions reductions targets validated by the SBTi.
An analysis of CDP’s 2020 data for UltraTech shows a decrease in Scope 1 and 3 emissions from 2019 to 2020. UltraTech Cement has taken various steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions footprint across operations, focusing on a range of issues such as internal carbon pricing, energy efficiency measures, using alternate fuel resources, increasing renewable energy and waste heat recovery share in the power mix as well as increasing research and innovation. The company has also substituted fossil fuels in kilns with more than 0.3 million metric tonnes of hazardous and non‑hazardous wastes from other industries, installed renewable energy capacity of 99 MW and reached a waste heat recovery capacity of 118 MW in 2020. UltraTech Cement has now successfully met 12% of its electricity consumption through green energy sources and aims to achieve 34% by end of FY 2024.
To improve energy productivity, UltraTech Cement has joined the EP100 initiative and developed a roadmap using emerging technologies, evolving product mix, energy mix and carbon pricing. Initiatives such as EP100 will also help the company reduce its carbon emissions and meet the targets already set under the SBTi.
UltraTech Cement believes that its commitment to the SBTi is a key stepping stone in its journey towards a 1.5ºC aligned future. The company has already announced a GCCA Climate Ambition 2050, under which members of the Global Cement & Concrete Association are committing to lowering CO2 footprints across their operations and products, with a vision to deliver carbon-neutral concrete by 2050.