Climate change: World must accept 2060 net zero deadline

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Our cravings are crushing the planet -- reduce mindless consumption to avert climate change and eventual human extinction, says study.

The whole world is agog with expectations from COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference that will be held between October 31 and November 12 in Glasgow. The most in the face video of the dinosaur lecturing at the UN to save the human race makes a statement very little else can. Instead of finding ways to hold back on action by pointing to historical emissions and per capita accumulation, the story should move to collaboration both financial and technological to avert an impending crisis. It is like practising global risk management at planet scale.

I will focus on India’s actions in the hope that other nations will collaborate to scale these powerful actions. My choice falls on:

  • Acceleration in deployment of green Hydrogen at scale along with renewables till all fossil fuel-based options become so expensive on a comparative basis that they are given up.
  • Moving the food and fruit chain to limit severely the killing of animals for food and scaling up fruit trees substantially. Land use reallocation has massive potential for reducing India’s carbon footprint dramatically.
  • Dramatic use of circular economy concepts in every activity, making all transport EV and autonomous, and deploying all known technologies in concert to near shore and decentralise all production so that democratised, responsible consumption based on hyper productive production takes off.

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Climate change awareness key

A joint study may be commissioned by the four top IITs and the three top IIMs to create the road map using these three thrust areas. India’s commitment to these thrust areas and to a rigorous road map may then be percolated down to all activities in the country. Simultaneously, a commitment needs to be made to raising individual consciousness that will propel a demand impulse that will reject polluting consumption.

Education from primary school level can be reoriented to bring in sustainability education at all levels. The strongest regulatory support may be signalled by extending BRSR to all entities with a turnover beyond Rs 50 crore. This series of initiatives will show a concerted national commitment. I have no doubt that India and all nations on planet earth can get to net-zero by 2060 and that way before that carbon capture, clean energy, transport and food will deliver a new planet that generations can enjoy.

(Shailesh Haribhakti is a renowned chartered accountant and corporate leader based in Mumbai.)

Shailesh Haribhakti

Shailesh Haribhakti is a Chartered and Cost Accountant, an internal auditor and a certified financial planner. He is a board chairman, audit committee chair and independent director at some of the country's most preeminent organisations. He is a thought leader on the Indian economy and public policy.