At the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) in November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070 highlighted India’s proactive stand in the fight against climate change, sending a clear message to historical emitters. Action from the private sector will play a critical role in achieving this target and a key sector where urgent action would be required is the building and construction sector, which contributes approximately 25% of India’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. In an effort to set the ball rolling and help this sector make its low-carbon transformation smoothly and holistically, World Resources Institute (WRI) India, along with partners, Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), EcoCollab and Mahindra Lifespaces, launched a voluntary business charter ‘Value-chain Approach to Decarbonizing the Building and Construction Sector in India’ on February 10, 2022.
Speaking during the launch, Dr OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India said, “The Government has set an ambitious and progressive climate target for India, and sectoral transformation is key to achieving this goal. This Business Charter for the building and construction sector is one of the first guiding documents, that aims to push an emission heavy sector towards adopting low-carbon, climate-smart solutions. That several leading businesses have voluntarily owned this charter shows the seriousness with which the private sector is embracing this transformation. Going forward this charter aims to become a guiding toolkit of sorts for other sectors to adapt from.”
In his video message, Anand Mahindra, Executive Chairman, Mahindra Group, said, “Businesses that judiciously plan their green portfolio, businesses that are on the path to providing alternatives, businesses whose products and services embody and encourage environmental and social responsibility, businesses that have built new models of sustainability are the businesses that will sustain, and indeed thrive, in the future. I call upon the Indian industry, their CEOs, and all real estate businesses and stakeholders to join forces to raise our ambition. Let us accelerate the necessary business transformation to put the Indian building and construction sector on a net-zero pathway.”
Arvind Subramanian, Managing Director and CEO, Mahindra Lifespaces, “Net Zero is an opportunity, not an obligation, for the real estate sector in India. With much of urban India yet to take shape, we have a real possibility to decouple growth from carbon emissions across our towns and cities. As pioneers of environment-friendly homes and industrial developments, we believe in the power of effective stakeholder collaboration in accelerating India’s journey towards Net Zero. The Decarbonization Business Charter is an outcome of Mahindra Lifespaces’ collaboration with WRI, EcoCollab, and AEEE. The combined commitments and actions of the signatories of this charter will help galvanize positive steps today, for a better urban future tomorrow.”
Dr. Satish Kumar, President and Executive Director, AEEE: “If we aim to decarbonize the building sector, then there is a need to look at the sector in a holistic manner, covering greenhouse gas emissions from operational and embodied carbon along with the impact of the building sector on water and air.”
Priya Shankar, who leads India Climate & Environment programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies said: “The Indian building and construction sector has an opportunity to leapfrog and adopt innovative green practices. This will help address climate change and promote sustainable development. We welcome this charter which showcases the way to climate action for Indian businesses.”
This business charter took shape after consultations with 150+ key stakeholders through June-July 2021 on four key themes: designing net-zero buildings, construction and operations, occupiers’ perspectives, material efficiency. The consultations helped arrive at six priority action areas that will facilitate the process of transitioning to a net-zero building and construction sector.