Addressing climate change

Across the Tata group, there has been considerable progress in terms of developing abatement strategies, increasing awareness and determining best practices

The Tata group acknowledges that businesses have a significant role to play in combating climate change, and as a socially responsible groupit would continue to play a leadership role. Globally, there are many factors that are prompting corporate action to address climate change.

The first is the growing rise of extreme weather events, which have inevitable emotional and business implications for the work force and operations.

Second, with public pressure, regulations have tightened around the world, and stronger action to tackle climate change is being driven by governments.

Third, the new corporate social responsibility (CSR)legislation in the Indian Companies Act in 2013 is viewed as a watershed for corporate India since it requires every company meeting certain size and scale criteria to spend 2 percent of their net profits on CSR. So, for the Tatas, responding to climate change makes for both ethical and business sense.

This resulted in a two-pronged approach. At one level, a behaviour change among Tata companies has been initiated by incorporating climate change in the Tata Code of Conduct. At another level, a series of plans, policies and initiatives havebeen drawn up for companies by setting up a climate change steering committee in 2008.

A climate change policy for all Tata companies has also been articulated by the steering committee. This functions as a common framework for institutionalising climate change policies. The climate change agenda is now being expanded to create a larger discourse on sustainability that includes environment and community initiatives. The Tata Global Sustainability Council, set up in November  2014, provides strategic guidance and thought leadership to companies, including the development of a group-wide sustainability policy.

The Tata group became part of the Prime Minister's low carbon committee and was a member in the steering committee of the 'Caring for Climate' initiative of the United Nations Global Compact and United Nations Environment Programme. Ahead of the crucial global climate change talks that concluded in Paris, global corporate leaders signed an open letter on climate change, including the former Chairman of Tata Sons. The coalition, CEO Climate Leaders, comprising CEOs from 79 companies with operations in over 150 countries and territories, and facilitated by the World Economic Forum, believes the private sector has a responsibility to actively engage in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to help lead the global transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy.

Dr Mukund Rajan, Chairman, Tata Global Sustainability Council, is one of the two Commissioners from India for the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) along with Ajay Mathur, director-general of The Energy Research Institute (TERI). The ETC brings together a uniquely diverse group of individuals and organisations from across the energy landscape – investors, incumbent energy companies, industry disruptors, international organisations, NGOs, research institutes – from across the developed and developing world. It aims to accelerate change towards low-carbon energy systems that enable robust economic development and limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2°C. Lord Adair Turner, Chairman of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) in the UK, chairs this initiative.

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