British International Investment
25 April 2016

How businesses in India are already supporting climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals

CDC’s Ritu Kumar on what Indian businesses are doing on climate action and the SDGs.

On 22nd April, the Indian government – one of 171 countries – signed the Paris Agreement which had been finalised last year at COP21. The Agreement marks a new phase in global efforts to drive low-carbon development and protect vulnerable countries, particularly in the developing world, from the impacts of climate change.

Crucially India’s climate plan – known as the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution – is rooted in the country’s national strategy for an inclusive and sustainable approach to economic growth. Rather than being somehow separate, tackling climate change is a central part of realising the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which were also approved by the world’s governments last year.

In India, access to clean, reliable and affordable energy brings these priorities together. More than 300 million people in India remain without electricity – and power demand is expected to double over the next 20 years. So renewable energy is not just a great way of driving down carbon emissions, but it is also essential if India is to realise its goals for income growth and development. As a result, the country has set ambitious targets to introduce an additional 60GW of wind power and 100GW of solar power (with 40 GW from rooftop panels) by 2022, more than six times the current installed capacities.

Importantly, the government sees a vital role for the private sector and innovative approaches to energy finance to help deliver these targets. This is strongly aligned with the approach we take at CDC where renewable power is a strategic sector based on its contribution to development as well as its potential for attractive returns for long-term investors.

An example of the strategic way in which CDC has invested is Green Infra, an Indian independent renewable power producer. The electricity generated by Green Infra reaches around one million people across four Indian states – this increased access to electricity will help businesses to grow as well as preventing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Not only that, our investment also helped create 600 direct jobs with hundreds more supported by the supply chain. More exploratory is our work to promote rooftop solar installations among our portfolio companies such as logistics, warehousing and industrial facilities.

CDC is also mainstreaming resource efficiency measures across its portfolio in India to ensure that our investee companies are climate proofed. India is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, with water stress becoming an increasingly critical concern for business and communities. To support, we have worked with our Indian healthcare businesses we invest in to carry out energy and water audits which have identified significant opportunities to save resources and cut costs.

Agriculture is still India’s largest source of employment – but it is exposed to rising temperatures. We have invested in an Indian bank which provides credit to farmers for drip irrigation measures, saving water at a time of rising scarcity.

Too often climate change and sustainable development are seen as issues for the future. But new approaches to business are already in place in India – and look set to scale up substantially in the years ahead as the Paris Agreement and the SDGs become a normal part of the economic landscape.

Ritu Kumar is CDC’s Director of Environmental and Social Responsibility at CDC.

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