From: Reuters
Published July 24, 2008 08:36 AM

India firms lag in climate action: report

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's top firms face little stakeholder pressure to combat climate change with only about 40 percent of the companies surveyed setting voluntary carbon emissions reduction goals, a report said.

A survey by KPMG consultants of 70 CEOs found their response to climate issues was driven largely by the need to comply with expected regulations, while leaving the leadership role in tackling global warming to the government.

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The survey included top companies from power, automobile, petroleum, cement mining and construction sectors.

There was no dearth of understanding of the subject with 83 percent of the firms saying they either had a clear strategy in place to reduce carbon emissions or were developing such plans.

But, the survey said, intentions did not match actions.

"Merely good intentions with regard to environment awareness are not enough. What is needed is a structured and measurable plan," said senior KPMG official Arvind Mahajan.

While many companies in the developed world have measured their baseline carbon footprint and set reduction targets over 5-10 years, in India only 41 percent of firms had some qualified reduction goals to be achieved by 2010.

About 38 percent had no such goals.

The companies' measures to tackle climate change were based on relatively small steps, such as using energy-efficient appliances, rather than bigger measures such as ensuring their supply chains include environmentally friendly firms.

India's new national climate change plan focuses on renewable energy, but doesn't commit to any emission caps. It says it must use more energy to lift its population from poverty and that its per-capita emissions are a fraction of those in rich nations.

India, whose economy has grown by 8-9 percent annually in recent years, contributes around 4 percent of mankind's global greenhouse gas emissions, but says its levels will never go beyond those of developed countries.

The government is setting up energy benchmarks for each industry sector and allowing trade in energy-efficiency certificates.

But the KPMG survey showed only 17 percent of the respondents saw the growing market for low-energy/carbon products and services as motivation to reduce their carbon footprints.

However, almost 90 percent respondents said their investment decisions would take climate change into consideration.

(Editing by Alistair Scrutton and David Fogarty)

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