This is one project that could win the Tatas more accolades than the launch of the common man's car or the proposal to build affordable housing. A Tata Sons' director announced recently that the group is hiring consultants to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions at its top four polluting units making steel, motors, power and chemicals, and also at Tata Consultancy Services. Together these five companies account for 80 per cent of the group's overall carbon emissions. The goal is being set for these companies to reduce their carbon footprint to bring emission levels on par with those following global benchmarks - all within the next three years.
Such initiatives could motivate other corporations to follow suit, especially through collaboration and sharing of technical know-how. The Anglo-Scandinavian Global Leadership Technology Exchange (GLTE) is a global consortium set up for precisely this purpose and it is in the interest of growing companies to enrol as members of GLTE or any other similar body as the Tata Group has done. The idea is to move from mere rhetoric about climate change and sustainability to undertaking prototype projects based on innovation and with collaboration.
Greening of industry is being taken seriously more as a business opportunity that will reap rich dividends in the future rather than reducing it to tokenism representing corporate social responsibility. A great deal of innovation is happening worldwide to face the challenge of climate change, not the least being efforts to use technology to clean up industry. Distilleries in India, for instance, are going in for a zero pollution system with new technology. Several cutting-edge innovative techniques are being made available to treat industrial effluents. In addition to cleaning up production processes, much energy can be conserved by going in for energy-saving measures in office buildings, factories and lighting and other electrical appliances.
From the consumer side, green labelling would facilitate informed choice and boost demand for energy-efficient products. Currently, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency awards star ratings to products on the basis of how green they are. Buildings are rated, too. Subjecting products and buildings to green auditing and rating is currently voluntary. This could be made mandatory once sufficient public awareness is created. It is in the interest of all to try and reduce individual and corporate carbon footprints so that the total volume of carbon emissions of the country can be scaled down.