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Guest Column

Published on: Nov. 3, 2021, 7:40 p.m.
Prioritising Green Tech and ESG
  • Innovative use of emerging technologies like Quantum computing can be a game-changer in protecting the environment

By CP Gurnani. The author is Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra

 ‘Climate change’ is a problem that has been raising concerns globally for quite some time and its solution remains in the term itself – ‘Change’ – which should start from an individual level. It entails making changes in the way we carry on with our daily lives – the way we spend, the way use resources at all places, the way we travel, the way we do business, etc. – with an aggressive aim to reach the zero target for emissions, landfills, water wastage and pollution, and so on. Mitigating climate change through decarbonisation is no longer a choice. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Sixth Assessment Report estimates that the world will probably reach or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming within just the next two decades. The United Nations Human Rights Council on 8 October unanimously voted, for the first time, for recognising a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a universal right. While the fight must be sustained uniformly around the world, each step counts in the long march.

In 2020, the world learned a hard lesson: We don’t know what is immediately around the corner, even when we think we are fully prepared for the moment. Hence, a people-centric sustainable approach is critical to ensure risk mitigation. Corporates, organisations, think-tanks, and governing bodies must join the effort to craft measures that promote sustainable and equitable growth for a resilient society, which will only be possible through a re-adjustment of strategies. 

Role of Technology - Green Tech Innovations for Sustainable Growth

Innovative use of emerging technologies can be a game-changer in protecting the environment. Organisations can deliver intelligent solutions using 5G, which can enable remote monitoring of energy sites, distribution of energy within a smart-grid, automation of distribution etc. Emerging technologies such as blockchain can help deliver supply chain transparency and paperless transactions for businesses across industries and government. The use of GPUs (Graphical processing units) to boost AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithm training consumes a lot of energy. The shift to quantum computing can address this as the computation using a quantum computer consumes less power. 

In addition to the game-changing use of emerging technologies in building a sustainable world of tomorrow, I believe in the power of the 4R mantra – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover – in restoring the world of yesterday. There is a lot that we can learn from countries such as Sweden in this regard. For instance, Swedes recycle about 84 per cent of their used plastic drink bottles and aluminium cans. Everyone who buys a plastic bottle or can has to pay a minor deposit, a deposit the consumers get back when they recycle the empty bottles and cans. 

Carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) is an important emission reduction technology that can be applied across the entire energy system. Instead of only focusing on decarbonising the world with reduced plastics and cement, with the help of technology, we can also consider capturing the carbon emitted by an individual, organisation, service or product, compress it, and move it to a suitable permanent storage site. 

Future of ESG within organisations – from Proposition-led to Purpose-led ESG: A strong ESG proposition correlates with higher equity returns. While this is a great outcome, the buzz word ESG should go beyond green funds to customised frameworks that reflect each organisation’s purpose and values. A recent analysis shows that 67 per cent of millennials expect employers to have purpose and want their jobs to have societal impact. With millennials and Generation Z employees making up 59 per cent of the workforce in 2020, business needs to adapt to their demands. 

The Dutch pension federation decided to draw up an ESG covenant for pension funds. It requires schemes to report on how they take into account the environment, climate, human rights, and social relations. This is an example of purpose-led initiative inspired from the forecasted growth of the market and a change in public perception with a younger generation of pension-fund investors looking at the environmental and social ranking of their portfolios.

The Great Rest with Green Business

It is time we consciously support and incentivise green projects to recognise the spirit of ‘eco entrepreneurship’, get our people upskilled in green technologies and map the 3P (People, Planet, Profits) goals with their professional KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to revive the economy and environment alike. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations are indeed guiding lamps for organisations for value creation.

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