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"We focus on action now - not action tomorrow"

Divya Sharma, Executive Director, India, The Climate Group (TCG) shares how bold, catalytic energy initiatives are helping the world's leading businesses accelerate climate action. 

Divya Sharma, Executive Director, India - The Climate Group.

Q: Tell us more about the goals and pathways of the Climate Group's work in India. What does the Climate Group stand for and what is your vision in India?

At the Climate Group, we look at the biggest opportunities to drive climate action under the leadership of business and government. We do this by forming powerful networks, unlocking the power of collective action to move whole systems such as energy, transport, and industry, for a cleaner future.

India is one of the fastest-growing economies and the third-largest carbon emitter, but the country is equally committed to international pacts on climate change and driving growth towards greener cleaner pathways. India is on its way to meet its Paris Agreement targets. India has already reduced its emissions intensity of GDP by 21 percent. The target is to reduce emissions intensity by 33-35 percent by 2030. Additionally, India needs to cover just 2 percent of its 2030 target of installing 40 percent non-fossil fuel electricity capacity. Our work in India helps this shift from carbon-intensive practices to low carbon development pathways.

We currently work across five systems: energy, industry, transport, food, and the built environment. Through these systems, we aim to influence and accelerate low-carbon transitions.

We focus on action now - not action tomorrow.

We do this by supporting and influencing business and sub-national governments in India to commit to realistic, inclusive, and accountable climate action targets now to support systems transitions over the next decade.

Q: What are some of the initiatives undertaken by the Climate Group and what has the response been like across the various quarters?

Our work in India is two-fold. We support businesses in taking leadership on climate by committing to transition to clean and efficient energy and transport. And we work with Indian states to help ramp up their strategies and capacity in their climate action pathways.

Our approach with businesses is through our three key initiatives that focus on clean energy (RE100), energy productivity (EP100), and electric vehicles (EV100).

Since the inception of our India office in 2012, we have helped transition 70+ companies (with operations in India) to clean energy, we have nine Indian companies who have committed to doubling their energy productivity and eight companies with national operations committed to transition to 100% electric transport through our campaigns and initiatives.

We approach our work with sub-national governments via the Under2 Coalition - a global community of state and regional governments committed to ambitious climate action in line with the Paris Agreement. The Climate Group works as the secretariat of this coalition.

We have four Indian states who are members of the coalition - Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Telangana. We also work with non-member states such as Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa, supporting them in strengthening their climate action pathways, help build a relevant policy with regard to clean infrastructure, and help them achieve their climate commitments.

Q: The Climate Group focuses on areas with the highest emissions such as energy, transport, and others, but these are also some of the most challenging sectors. What different approaches do you take for these specific sectors?

We understand the challenge in driving low-carbon practices, especially in hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, steel, chemicals, and iron. In response to this, we are working to open knowledge and technical expertise for these sectors to drive deep decarbonization.

In December last year, we published a report that shines a light on narratives to decarbonize heavy industry in India. The report brings to attention the need to decouple emissions with growth in these sectors and draws key insights from experts guiding challenging sectors to take steps in this direction.

The Climate Group also launched the Global Framework Principles for Decarbonising Heavy Industry where we saw six Indian companies commit to the framework. By committing, these companies acknowledge the urgent need to accelerate and scale up the decarbonization of heavy industry to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

We bring to focus the power of ambition and accountability in inspiring systems transitions. We annually report on progress towards commitments to keep businesses and governments on track. Many companies are progressing faster than what the commitment mandates. It inspires and challenges others to speed up as well. We also facilitate peer learning and best practice sharing between businesses and governments, and we connect decision-makers to essential information and resources. We drive engagement and dialogue between business, government, and other stakeholders to collaboratively address barriers to action and we use the actions and collective voice of our large networks to influence and shift global markets and policies towards faster reductions in carbon emissions.

We bring to focus the power of ambition and accountability in inspiring systems transitions. 

Q: The Climate Group is organizing the "India's Road to COP26 Summit: Business and Climate Action" summit on May 5, 2021, what can we expect from the day-long summit?

India's Road to COP26 Summit will be a key moment for Indian businesses to demonstrate their commitment and ambition to drive climate action on clean energy, industry, and transport systems in the lead-up to COP26. We are excited to be partnering with Customized Energy Solutions and the UK Government (which holds the COP26 Presidency).

This event on May 5th will be the first in a series of three events – in May, September (Climate Week NYC), and November (COP26). These three events will serve as a call for Indian companies to take further climate commitments and demonstrate their ambition on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric transport pathways.

The Summit will begin with an opening ceremony that will bring together leaders from across Indian business, government, and civil society to celebrate the role of businesses in accelerating India's ambition and action on climate. The opening ceremony will be followed by exclusive sessions on clean energy, energy productivity, and clean transport.

Through this day-long event on business ambition and action in India, we hope to identify critical priorities and levers for quick transitions towards clean and efficient energy and transport – led by business actions. We want to use this moment to hone in on the work we have done in the past to bring out the true potential of businesses driving fast climate action in India, in partnership with the efforts of the government.

Q: Lastly, what is the focus of your efforts for 2021? What do you plan to achieve this year?

We will continue to influence corporate and subnational climate action in India. We hope to mediate mutually benefiting partnerships between companies and government to make a mark on our efforts to bring down emissions while positioning India as a global climate leader.

While doing so we would like to underline the value of our campaigns and their potential to drive inclusive, low-carbon growth across the country. We are also working towards assessing and preparing an internal roadmap on how we use our expertise and our mission statement to influence and accelerate climate action in the region.

This is particularly important in the context of the climate decade and with the impacts of COVID-19 on the health and economy of our country. In this sense, the unwarranted disruption to development pathways, economy, livelihoods, and health can help us re-imagine growth for India while integrating climate-friendly, inclusive strategies. The systems transitions that we envision in the coming years will also focus on building resilience to disruptions such as this in the near future. 

Author : Shraddha Kakade
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