Infosys, an Indian information technology company, recently signed up for ‘The Climate Pledge,’ committing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its businesses by 2040, making it the first Indian company to make such a commitment.
The Climate Pledge is an initiative taken by e-commerce giant Amazon and Global Optimism, a Great Britain-based company with a focus on action against climate change. The pledge calls on new signatories to become net-zero carbon emitters across all their businesses by 2040, well before the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of 2050.
By signing the pledge, Infosys has set a significant precedent for other Indian companies to ramp up their climate change mitigation goals. Mercom recently interviewed Bose Varghese, Head – Green Initiatives, Infosys, to talk about the company’s plans to fight against climate change and achieve net-zero carbon over the coming years. Here are the edited excerpts:
Could you elaborate on some of the measures Infosys is taking to move towards its net-zero carbon emissions target?
Our net-zero strategy is built on three pillars: energy efficiency to reduce emissions, use of renewable energy to avoid emissions, and use of high-quality offsets to address any remaining emissions. Remaining emissions typically include those emissions from business travels.
We set new benchmarks in energy efficiency through highly efficient new building designs, innovative technologies, deep green retrofits, smart automation, and, more importantly, continuous monitoring. Our energy efficiency program is highly data-driven, monitored 24X7 through our central command center at Bangalore. We have invested significantly in smart automation and monitoring to ensure operational efficiencies. Today, 25 million square feet of office space at Infosys is certified with the highest levels of green building rating. All newly constructed facilities in India are getting added to this list. Our concentrated approach towards energy efficiency has provided per-capita efficiency of over 55% since 2008.
Our renewable energy program is based on captive generation as well as the procurement of green power through power purchase agreements (PPAs) with third-party generators.
Our carbon offset program is also anchored on socio-economic benefits to the rural communities. Our current portfolio of offset projects is directly benefitting over 100,000 rural families across India.
What role is solar energy going to play in achieving net-zero carbon emissions? How much solar has Infosys installed so far, and how many megawatts do you have planned for the rest of 2020 and 2021?
Solar energy is and will be a key component of our net-zero emissions strategy. While a significant part of our total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions still comes from the use of electricity generated from fossil fuels, our aim is to avoid the emissions associated with electricity use by transitioning into 100% renewable power. Our renewable energy program is a combination of captive generation and green power procurement. Last year, we consumed close to 120 million units of renewable power, including captive generation.
Are you looking to transform your corporate fleet vehicles to EVs? If so, by what date?
Our corporate vehicle fleet is relatively small. We are constantly working towards adding new electric vehicles as replacements. Using electric vehicles for mass transport/multi-utility vehicles (MUVs) is still a fairly new concept in India, and is currently evolving. We will transform as the ecosystem develops.
Can you elaborate on the company’s renewable targets over the coming years?
We were the first Indian company to join the RE100 campaign, and we remain committed to transitioning to 100% renewable power. In the financial year (FY) 2020, 44.3% of our electricity came from renewable sources. We will continue to pursue 100% renewable energy through a combination of captive generation and procurement.
What were some of the factors that compelled Infosys to commit to such a goal?
The Climate Pledge requires members to become net-zero carbon by 2040. This is meaningfully aligned to our belief that climate change demands urgent and universal action, and we understand some of the large global corporations have already joined the pledge. Being one of the largest companies in the world, we are certain that Amazon can take forward the global climate action agenda in a big way. We see The Climate Pledge as a great beginning to the movement that we’ve been working towards for several years now and believed this would augur the change by this pledge.
Do you expect the rest of corporate India to follow your path? What is your message to them?
What we have done through the various programs we have undertaken is to demonstrate a scalable and replicable model for climate action. The UN recognized our carbon neutral program as a ‘Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activity’ with the 2019 Global Climate Action Award. Therefore, we certainly hope that others would get inspiration from it.
We undertook this challenging climate commitment years before the Paris Agreement, with a realization that climate change is a serious threat to life on the planet and that we collectively have a responsibility to act with urgency. Today, the threat of climate change is direr and clearly evident than ever before, and climate action needs everyone’s commitment, and a collective will to act. As a corporation of repute, we have an added responsibility to step up and take the lead in the climate action movement.
Nithin is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Reuters News, he has covered oil, metals and agricultural commodity markets across global markets. He has also covered refinery and pipeline explosions, oil and gas leaks, Atlantic region hurricane developments, and other natural disasters. Nithin holds a Masters Degree in Applied Economics from Christ University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai.