Indian companies prioritise climate change, step up sustainability investments, says survey

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NEW DELH: Indian companies have ranked climate change as one of the top three priority areas and most of them have increased their sustainability investments from last year, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP said in a report citing its latest CXO Sustainability Survey.

The global survey covered 2,000 executives (CXOs), including chief executive officers, chief finance officers, chief operating officers, chief technology officers and others, of which 155 were from India.

The survey said 57% of Indian executives polled called climate change their “top three priority” compared to 42% of global executives.

Moreover, 81% of Indian executives said they have increased sustainability investments from last year, with 27% saying that investments have risen ‘significantly’, the survey said.

This increase in investments could be attributed to the fact that 53% of Indian executives surveyed believe that climate change is likely to impact their companies’ strategies and operations to a “high/very high” degree over the next three years. The report also that 60% of Indian executives rated a “just transition” to be extremely important to their organisation’s sustainability efforts, as compared to 46% of global executives.

A just transition seeks to ensure that substantial benefits of transitioning to a green economy are shared widely, while also supporting those who stand to lose economically, whether countries, regions, industries, communities, workers, or consumers.

“Despite the geopolitical and economic uncertainties, India Inc. is prioritising climate change and increasing investments towards sustainability. It’s promising to see that businesses in India understand the significance of a ‘just transition’ in protecting those who are most vulnerable to both climate change and job disruption. Having the right strategy to ensure a just transition would be critical going forward,” a statement from Deloitte said quoting Viral Thakker, partner and sustainability leader at the firm.

When it comes to stakeholders’ expectations on climate change, Indian organisations are feeling a moderate to high degree of pressure to act on climate change across various stakeholder groups. Compared to the global average, Indian executives are likely to report feeling more stakeholder pressure to act from board members, the government and shareholders, the statement said.

Changing regulatory environment and employee activism have increased their organisations’ sustainability actions over the past year, the executives said.

As far as climate actions are concerned, Indian executives are more likely to be focussed on increasing the efficiency of energy use, using more sustainable materials, training employees, and making operations/supply chains more climate resilient, in comparison with their global peers, the survey has found.

In line with global sentiments, Indian executives see brand reputation, addressing climate change, and innovation around offerings and operations as the top benefits of their current sustainability efforts.

However, they are less likely than the global average to be undertaking some actions like requiring suppliers to meet sustainability criteria, tying leader compensation to climate goals, and incorporating climate considerations into lobbying, the statement said.

India Inc. highlighted insufficient supply of sustainable or low-emissions inputs, lack of talent and expertise, costs, and difficulty in measuring environmental impact as top barriers obstructing more climate action, the survey has found.

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