New working paper captures potential impact of corporate climate action in India

By Ashwini Hingne, Manager, Climate, WRI India (original blog)

Many large Indian businesses have committed to ambitious climate initiatives. However, there exists little understanding of the aggregate impact of these initiatives and how they relate to emissions at the national level. A new working paper, by WRI India and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), estimates the collective impact of voluntary climate actions by Indian companies by applying ICAT’s Non-State and Subnational Action Guide. As climate commitments and initiatives by non-state and subnational actors increase globally, a better understanding of their potential impacts can help draw better projections to support better climate policy planning and implementation.

The analysis included 50 companies that have committed to time bound climate targets leading to quantifiable emission reductions, and whose emissions collectively comprised approximately 35 percent of total emissions from India’s industrial sector. Key results from the analysis are:

  • 50 Indian companies included in the analysis can reduce their GHG emissions by 13.04 percent in 2030 through their existing voluntary climate commitments, relative to their emissions in the Reference Scenario. The Reference Scenario represents the company’s emissions in the absence of any voluntary commitments but accounts for emissions reductions that would take place independently of a company’s voluntary commitments, including applicable policy mandates such as the Perform, Achieve Trade (PAT) scheme, and extraneous improvements in technology or processes.


Figure 1: Annual aggregate emissions for the 50 companies in the two scenarios from 2014 through 2030.

  • Existing voluntary climate commitments of these 50 companies can lead to a reduction of 1.74 to 1.95 percent in India’s aggregate GHG emissions in 2030 over and above national emissions projections that consider existing climate policies. Figure 2 depicts the potential impact of the voluntary climate commitments of these 50 companies on India’s current policy trajectories through 2030.



Figure 2: Potential Impact of Companies’ Voluntary Climate Commitments on National Emissions Projections

  • On looking at the emissions reduction impact of voluntary commitments by sector, the paper found that heavy industries such as Metals, Pulp & Paper, and Cement drive over 90 percent of the overall emissions reduction, despite their less ambitious emissions reduction targets on average, as compared to other sectors (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Relative Contribution by Sector to Overall Emissions Reduction Estimated from Companies’ Voluntary Commitments

Although the analysis relied on voluntary corporate disclosures from the past three years and could include a small but significant subset of Indian industry, it provides valuable insights on the quantitative potential of voluntary action by the industry in driving emissions reductions at the national level. It also provides greater understanding of the emissions reduction potential in different industrial sectors, and potentially reinforcing relationships between policy mandates and voluntary initiatives of companies.

Moreover, by enabling a better understanding of the impact of voluntary action in the corporate sector, evidence such as this can improve engagement between policymakers and industry, help in the formation of more effective emissions reduction policies for industry, and encourage greater climate action from a wider set of actors, creating a virtuous ambition loop that drives greater climate ambition in India.

To find out more about this project, please contact Ashwini Hingne. For more information about how to apply the ICAT Non-State and Subnational Action Guide, please contact the ICAT Secretariat.

Photo credit: WRI India