Which are the main pillars of your CSR and Sustainability strategy?
The focus of ABB India’s CSR strategy is to focus on communities in and around our location and to the economically underprivileged. Our focus is on access to electricity, education, skill development, helping the differently-abled, community health and putting in place environmental safeguards.
One major focal area for ABB India’s CSR activities is “Access to electricity” and on promoting renewable energy for community use. Access to electricity is key for a de-carbonizing economy as we realize that fossil fuel and conventional resources are finite and also heavily polluting. ABB’s focus from a business as well as a CSR perspective is not only to promote and bring in solar and other forms of renewable energy to remote areas, but also make sure that the ensuing economic activities do not increase the carbon foot print.
As far as sustainability is concerned, ABB’s products and solutions are geared towards efficient generation, transmission and distribution of electricity – a key factor in mitigating the impact of climate change. ABB’s solutions for energy efficiency are also geared to render industrial processes more efficient and environment friendly. In other words, our business as well as sustainability activities are aimed at decoupling of growth from environmental impact. ABB globally also works with organizations like World Business Council for Sustainable Development as well as the United Nation’s “sustainable energy 4 all” project. The latter constitutes providing expertise for drafting energy efficiency standards for commonly used appliances as well as on distribution transformers and high efficiency motors.
What have been some of the greatest challenges in realizing your CSR and Sustainability goals in the past year, and how has your company overcome them?
One of the bigger challenges have been the sustenance and continuance of our efforts through a combined and consistent implementation by the other partner agencies. We see it is as a joint effort between the communities, government agencies and corporates all working towards the same goal with varied roles.
For example ABB has been supporting government schools over several years in terms of improving and providing basic infrastructure facilities like class rooms, science labs, drinking water facility, toilets etc. However there needs to be a consistent and a well-rounded initiative by other concerned agencies to favourably impact behaviour, usage and sustenance of the project over an extended period of time. Remote areas, access, acceptability and adapting programs also have at times been challenging.
Keeping in mind the targets set in the Paris accord what do you see on the horizon for corporate sustainability initiatives?
The Paris summit in December 2015, was very fruitful in terms of brining in the urgency for global action to mitigate and cut further Greenhouse gas emissions through the adoption of the Paris Agreement. This can lead to ambitious outcomes that will have a real impact on tackling climate change. This brings in reinforcement and commitment from countries and corporates as well to focus on all possible way to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Our greatest contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has been and will be through our energy efficient and renewable energy products, systems and services that increase productivity while lowering environmental impact. As stated earlier, we also actively participate in the United Nations-driven ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative to help promote energy efficient products globally.
Internally, ABB at the Group level aims to cut GHG emissions from direct use of fuels, from purchased electricity and district heating. We have set a target to reduce ABB’s energy intensity by 20 percent by 2020, from a 2013 baseline. (This includes both direct fuel consumption and the use of electricity and district heating for manufacturing processes and to operate buildings)
A lot of objectives can be achieved if we address the low hanging fruits like energy efficiency for processes and products. Adequate awareness with enabling policy framework can generate huge savings not only in material terms but also to mitigate issues pertaining to environmental impact. For a growing country like India, it is important that sustainability and clean energy is viewed as intrinsic to rather than extraneous to businesses, as an opportunity to create jobs and improve lives rather than a series of restricting compliances. It is growth with green and not one versus the other – sustainable technologies will lead the way.
What are your goals for 2016 and your priorities for the year?
We would have continued focus on the five main CSR focal area of the Company namely:
Education and Skill development: To provide facilities and assist promotion of primary education among children and impart skills training to the youth
Access to Electricity: Collaborating to provide innovative off-grid solutions to provide and improve access to electricity in the country
Healthcare: To support and augment ongoing national initiatives on health, hygiene and health care systems
Environment and Local Safeguard: To undertake greening and environmental initiatives in the community
Differently abled: To catalyze skills training and employment opportunities for the differently abled
We would continue and sustain efforts to identify areas and communities where we can affect our renewable energy/micro grid projects for community use. We would like to use our internal expertise and technical footprint to render our CSR services and solutions for community betterment. Focus will be on renewable energy especially solar, microgrids and to provide where possible, ABB expertise and products for community use.
In conversation with Ms. Dhenuka Srinivasan,Environment and Sustainability Manager at ABB India Limited. (Original Post)