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COP26 opportunity to move from words to actions, can’t rely on govt action alone, experts say

US Consulate in Mumbai, think-tank Atlantic Council's South Asia Center and CII discuss how climate action requires the 'speed and scale' of private industries too.

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New Delhi: The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is an opportunity to move from words to actions, said a panel of experts Wednesday during a discussion on how Indian businesses should be paying attention to the upcoming climate change summit.

The discussion was organised by US Consulate in Mumbai, in association with the think-tank Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

“What is unique about the US and India in their approach to the climate crisis is that these are market-driven societies in which businesses play a crucial role in the lives of citizens,” said Irfan Nooruddin, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

He added that the private sectors in both countries are likely to be leading the charge of climate finance, innovation and green investments.

Scott Ticknor, Deputy Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Mumbai, agreed by saying that when it comes to climate change, the world cannot rely on government action alone and requires the “speed and scale” of private industries too. However, he also credited the Modi government by saying: “India deserves recognition for its global leadership to tackle the climate crisis”.

Other panelists in the discussion included Vivek Pathak, Director & Global Head of Climate Business at International Finance Corporation (IFC), Prabodha Acharya, Chief Sustainability Officer at JSW Steel Ltd, and Lou del Bello, a climate and energy journalist currently based in Delhi.

At COP26 countries are expected to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and set higher ambitions to reduce global warming.

‘COP26 an opportunity to move from words to actions’

According to Acharya, “Climate change is the biggest business risk but we see it as one of the biggest commercial opportunities of all time.”

He added, “I see COP26 as an opportunity to move from words to actions and…for the [Indian] government to provide businesses with greater certainty towards achieving de-carbonisation and net zero emissions.”

He said that decisions made at COP26 may drive future customer behaviour and in turn impact business practices, adding that electric vehicles and green hydrogen are spheres of opportunity especially for steel businesses like JSW.

Asked what JSW is doing along the lines of de-carbonisation, he said, “Our objective is to become carbon neutral by 2050…we want to move from thermal to renewables.” He added that the company is working towards reducing 42 per cent of emissions from steel operations.

Meanwhile, Pathak said he expects to see more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) at COP26. NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions.

“We keep hearing about trillions of dollars [of green capital] which are waiting on the sidelines….I’m hoping we are going to bring it into emerging markets after de-risking it,” said Pathak.

Asked how to motivate MSMEs and small businesses to make green investments, Acharya said: “That’s going to involve policies, de-risking capital but you really need to get local banks to take this to heart too…”

Also read: How COP26 can make up for the failure of 25 previous conferences to tackle climate change


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