Responsible Business Rankings

India’s Top Companies for
Sustainability and CSR 2021

Net Zero Performance

26 companies of the top 100 companies scored against this line item. Of the 26 companies, 7 belong to consumer discretionary sector and 5 are diversified. None of the energy and healthcare companies reported net zero programs.

  • Carbon neutral operations: Bosch India and Infosys reported that they are already carbon neutral.
  • Partially carbon neutral operations: Some companies reported that some of their campuses or manufacturing facilities or businesses are carbon neutral. Example, L&T’s 2 campuses, Marico’s Perundurai facility and Grasim’s VSF business became carbon neutral on scope 1 and 2.
  • Carbon neutral product/service: GMR Infrastructure reported that its project - Delhi Airport - is carbon neutral.
  • Net Zero targets: A few companies have shared timelines by which they aspire to net zero carbon emissions.
Company nameTarget year to become carbon neutral
Siemens, Hero MotoCorp, SBI2030
M&M Group companies, Wipro2040
TKM, Bharti Airtel, Tata Power2050
United Spirits, ABFRL2025
Godrej Consumer Products2021

The Sixth IPCC report: Laser Focus Needed on Net Zero

The IPCC report is a hefty and detailed tome. Authored by over 200 people, it covers 14000 research papers. The report is almost 400 pages long, and its summary for policymakers itself is 42 pages long.

The key points raised are:

  • It’s getting hotter: Each of the last four decades has been successively warmer than any decade that preceded it since 1850. Since then, the Earth has warmed over a tenth of a degree; it is now approximately 1.1ºC hotter than it was in the second half of the 19th century. Under all five scenarios tested by the report, the Earth will be hotter by more than 1.5 ºC by 2030, much earlier than expected. And it is besting the Paris Agreement reductions.
  • Human activity is behind the warming: The link of climate change to human activity has never been as clear as in this report. The report traces this warming to human activity. Consuming fossil fuels has combined with agriculture has skyrocketed GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions.
  • The future is hot: Another important aspect is the increase in confidence seen in the report’s estimate of the “equilibrium climate sensitivity”—the amount of warming to be expected due to a doubling of the carbon dioxide level. This report puts the sensitivity at 2.5-4ºC, with the best estimate of 3ºC.
  • The Earth is moving towards good behaviour: The report finds that large-scale carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere might indeed be a way of reducing temperatures.
  • Methane reduction is the key: Methane is the second most important of the greenhouse gases being emitted in bulk by humankind. The current levels of methane in the atmosphere (like carbon dioxide) are at the highest. But unlike carbon dioxide, atmospheric methane is short-lived. Thus, doubling down on attempts to cut methane emissions from industry and agriculture should be a high priority.
  • Sulphates must be removed: sulphates are given off primarily by coal plants and by heavy fuel oils. Unlike greenhouse gases, sulphates reduce warming by reflecting incoming sunlight out into space. Although they reduce warming, they are deadly and have been gradually removed from fuels. The report points towards the need to for sulphate reductions with reductions in methane levels to reduce GHG emissions.

IPCC reports have always been sounding alarm bells. Yet haven’t paid heed. Environmental action has moved at a snail’s pace since the Rio Summit. The momentum picked up with the Paris agreement. Yet, the US’s reluctance and many countries delaying their pledges on carbon emission slowed down the pace. The recent IPCC report puts out the harm that can be caused by not taking urgent steps.

There are several things that need to be done – fast and simultaneously.

  • Innovation: Accelerating the development of technologies that help reduce emissions. Technologies that substitute fossil fuel with clean energy are becoming critical and both development and implementation needs attention.
  • Reduction: Companies round the world need to take urgent action to reduce their CO2 emissions. It will no longer be enough to keep emitting more and cover with questionable offsets.
  • Preservation: Rebuilding the forests that we mercilessly cut down to make for habitation. Forests act as carbon sinks and need to be rebuilt. Companies need to focus on their biodiversity actions to bring about the this change. Similarly seas and oceans also act as carbon sink and need to be protected.
  • Avoidance: Use of analytics and technology to track, measure and cut down emissions.
  • Investment: All this requires vast sums of money. Many governments around the world are running deficits in their budgets. So, the money needs to come from the private sector. However, the pandemic has impacted both governments and private sector. There is a need to develop innovative financial products that can help raise money for a liveable future.