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Guest Column

Published on: Nov. 8, 2021, 2:15 p.m.
Business at the crossroads
  • To reach its new 10-year net zero ambition, Capgemini will accelerate its carbon reduction programme across its biggest operational impact areas like business travel, commuting, and office energy

By Ashwin Yardi. The author is CEO – India, Capgemini

2020 was a year of big corporate sustainability pledges. Microsoft resolved to be carbon negative by 2030, and to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it releases. US multinational Starbucks pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent. It also pledged that 50 per cent of its water usage for coffee production and operations will be preserved or renewed. 

Politically too, the signs are encouraging. There have been ambitious commitments from EU, China, and other countries. The US will rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change. And more than 370 companies – with market capitalisation of over $3.6 trillion – have committed to reduce emissions in their quest for attaining a net-zero future by 2050. 

New-age technology at the core of sustainability initiatives: A Capgemini Research Institute report, Sustainable Operations: A comprehensive guide for manufacturers, lays out a comprehensive 6R approach – Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Recover, Redesign, and Remanufacture – for achieving business sustainability. It clearly charts the organic linkage between technology and sustainable manufacturing. 

Breakthrough Energy, a group of organisations that aims to accelerate innovation in sustainable energy, commissioned Capgemini Invent to identify from the bottom up 55 high-impact climate Technology Quests. The selection was based on a comprehensive review of more than 200 state-of-the-art clean tech projects. The study describes how investments in next-gen clean technologies can accelerate Europe’s economic recovery and transformation from the bottom-up. 

Organisations can leverage digital technologies like AI, AR/VR, Digital twins to drive their sustainability agenda. A climate modelling exercise that Capgemini conducted with a climate change start-up estimates that by 2030, AI-enabled use cases have the potential to help organisations fulfil 11-45 per cent of the ‘Economic Emission Intensity’ targets of the Paris Agreement, depending on the scale of AI adoption across sectors. 

Big businesses are taking clear leads in their respective areas. Danone and Walmart are embracing regenerative farming. Car-makers like Daimler, which is the original developer of the internal combustion engine, are preparing for an electric transportation future. AI-enabled use cases in automotive can deliver around 8 per cent of the more than 35 per cent reduction required by 2030. 

Unilever was able to reduce its energy costs by using digital twins claims, resulting in huge savings in operating costs. Similarly, by mapping its entire store, fulfilment, and distribution network using AI, IKEA identifies the next-best possible location for returned items. This means returned items can be recycled or sold, reducing the amount of returned merchandise that ends up in landfill.

In the new normal, with technological innovation becoming a key lever of progress through the use of embedded software, data, and new-generation wireless connectivity, the thrust is to make technology useful, accessible, and ethical. Ultimately, the aim should be to ‘unleash human energy through technology for an inclusive and sustainable future.’ 

Capgemini sustainability – a quest to Be the Benchmark!

Capgemini is committed to achieve sustainability goals. We also help our clients achieve their sustainability objectives with our technology and consulting capabilities. The company set a target of achieving carbon neutrality no later than 2025 and become a net zero business by 2030. This ambition is built on our progress in achieving 30 per cent reduction in carbon emissions per employee in January 2020, a decade ahead of schedule. 

  • In tough times, the magnitude of a crisis is determined not by the impact of the events involved but by the fragility of the system it attacks

To reach its new 10-year net zero ambition, Capgemini will accelerate its carbon reduction programme across its biggest operational impact areas like business travel, commuting, and office energy, in line with the requirements of 1.5°C science-based target pathway. The strategy includes reducing the need for business travel and commuting, rollout of a hybrid and electric car fleet, and engaging with suppliers to reduce the carbon impact of its supply chain. 

Capgemini will also switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity across the Group. Installation of solar plants to reduce carbon emissions, Net Metering to give away surplus power generated in campuses to society, and installation of ‘solar trees’ (functional power generators that mimic a tree trunk with solar panels as leaves) have all made a real difference on the ground. 

Capgemini Group has pledged to plant 20 million trees by 2030 to support the World Economic Forum (WEF) Trillion Trees Movement. This commitment to forestation builds on Capgemini’s existing tree-planting initiatives, with the Group celebrating in August 2021 the planting of its millionth tree in India in just over a year. 

On the business side, Capgemini is committed to help clients achieve their net-zero goals. Towards that end, we have designed our sustainability framework to empower and support clients on their net-zero journey. There are three stages to this: commit, act, and monitor & report – starting with supporting our clients to make a commitment towards a new-zero strategy; enabling them to take action, and helping them monitor and report their progress. 

Sustainability commitments cannot be a one-off; Capgemini has made its sustainability policy part of our people and values, with public pledges and transparent execution, as well as regular measurement and constant re-calibration as we move ahead.

  • Sustainability commitments cannot be a one-off; Capgemini has made its sustainability policy part of our people and values, with public pledges and transparent execution, as well as regular measurement and constant re-calibration as we move ahead

Sustainability – driving business transformation for good! The good news is, there is momentum building up. The Race to Zero campaign – a global union of investors, businesses, and cities that have pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions at least by 2050 – is on track to increase its membership by minimum ten-fold between COP25 and COP26. 

Let us conclude too with an India context. Our country is at the centre of the sustainability transformation. Home to one-sixth of the world’s population, India can determine the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – it has a fast-growing economy, a large domestic market, and will play an important role in global supply chains. 

Member companies in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) from India have succeeded in reducing GHG emissions by 51 per cent, and over 50 per cent of their energy consumption comes from renewable sources. Increased use of renewables also generates considerable demand for supporting technologies and supply chains. This will create a positive impact on the business environment in India.  

According to CDP India’s Annual Report 2020, a total of 52 companies have committed to SBTi, with a growth of 37 per cent over last year. Additionally, there has been a drop in the emissions reported by these companies in 2020 – a clear result of the reduction initiatives undertaken. We are on track!

In tough times, the magnitude of a crisis is determined not by the impact of the events involved but by the fragility of the system it attacks. To create real, meaningful change, today’s leaders must go beyond current sustainability commitments and use their corporate power to become vocal advocates for far-reaching socio-economic, and environmental solutions. 

If ever there was a time to translate purpose into action, IT IS NOW!

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