Last week marked the third annual Business Climate Summit. Over the course of two days, business and government leaders came together in New Delhi to forge a pathway to reaching net zero emissions over the next half-century.
“India will not disappoint on climate change” said Indian Environment Minister Harsh Vardan at the opening of the Summit. “We should listen to the voice of science and act accordingly to safeguard our people.”
He spoke to a global audience of business leaders and policy makers who met while floods wreaked massive human and economic loss in Houston, Mumbai and across South and East Asia – a strong reminder of the urgency to lead the transition to sustainability.
Throughout the event, WBCSD members demonstrated that they are at the forefront of bringing solutions to sustainability challenges, through programs like the Corporate Renewable PPA Forum India deep dive, the Water Leadership Group in India, the Cement Sustainability Initiative in India and more.
CEOs from across the globe were able to discuss the important actions they’re taking in climate change mitigation and resilience and how these efforts contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
At a high-level roundtable, CEOs from across sectors called for collaboration between different stakeholders to to help emerging economies to leapfrog to new solutions – calling on governments to keep climate change high on the policy agenda.
The following key themes emerged as important takeaways for business across the Roundtable and the Summit itself:
Risk and resilience
WBCSD strongly focused on renewables as a key element for climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
Alongside the Business Climate Summit, WBCSD held a workshop on Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to help companies understand the contractual terms used across different PPA structures in India. Establishing a common understanding of the different structures enables an easier negotiation process between the purchasers and sellers of renewable power.
During the session, Trilegal explained upcoming legal changes to private PPAs, while Godrej Group shared their experience in the execution of PPA structures in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat and Mumbai and the contractual terms associated with them. While off-site PPAs are a tested structure in India today, Mahindra Susten highlighted the advantages of on-site PPAs for the audience. On-site projects are generally quicker to install, easier to maintain and use idle rooftop or ground space.
It was clear in the workshop that companies are increasingly looking at power purchase agreements to achieve price visibility. Lower electricity prices, distributed generation and access to renewable energy are revolutionizing power markets and opening new opportunities through electrification.
Interest was also high in tackling emissions associated with the transport sector, and in electric mobility solutions for energy storage linked to renewables in transport.
Transport accounts for 18% of all CO2 emissions, and is growing faster than any other sector. Participants agreed that the world will not reach the Paris Agreement or the SDGs without near-decarbonization of transport before the end of the century.
Maria Mendiluce, Managing Director of WBCSD’s Natural Capital Area moderated the Urban Mobility Session at the Summit, where participants highlighted how businesses are accelerating the pace of innovation on sustainable transport, and how government can support scaling up these solutions.
Speakers discussed innovation and best practice from around the world, what’s required to promote the use of high-grade fuel-efficient tech and how to deploy alternative fuel infrastructure.
During the session,
- Nicholas Beaumont, of the Paris Process on Mobility and Climate emphasized that cities need to be included in the journey to decarbonize the transport sector.
- Nicholas Fornage, Country Director of the French Development Agency stressed that social, environmental and financial innovation are just as important technical innovation in facilitating seamless transport.
- Sharat Sharma, Director of Operations at DMRC explained how city planning is key for streamlined mobility – and that vertical growth (as opposed to sprawling horizontal growth) could be key.
- Sohanjeet Randhawa, Director of Sustainability at Volvo emphasized that finding solutions to congestion, emissions and noise should be at the heart of transport planning - followed by alternative fuels and energy.
- Stefan Palskog, President at Scania emphasized using existing technology and local fuel resources to embrace fossil free mobility. For example, he said that 96% of waste ends up in landfills. These can help as a source of local fuel/energy for the transport sector.
Overall, issues of transport and climate resilience came together as participants discussed sustainability challenges across India itself.
There is no two-degree scenario for the world without a successful low-carbon transition for India.
India is committed to the climate transition, and is making gains on energy efficiency and deployment of renewables. At the same time, India’s people and industries are reliant on a large proportion of coal fired power stations, have significant human development needs, as well as an economic and political environment that require balancing with long term goals.
Showing the link between low carbon transition and job creation has never been more important. The narrative around sustainability must change to incorporate messages of growth and prosperity – and business is in the best position to drive the message home.
Events between now and the end of the year must focus on sharpening these messages to ensure that everyone comes on board for the transition to a more sustainable world.