Interviews

‘What’s good for the planet is good for business’

Rajeshwari P Nambiar, Manager- Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) at KPMG and mother of Aadya Nambiar, a class 7 student of Apeejay Kharghar, says many companies are adopting more eco-friendly means to conducting business.

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Rajeshwari is a Post-Graduate in Environmental Science from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). As an ESG Manager, she is responsible for developing and overseeing environmental, social and corporate governance policies and procedures, as well as identifying all key potential social and environmental impacts and risks of transactions and ensuring that they comply with best industry practices. In an interview, she explains how the companies are leading the fight against climate change.

Rajeshwari P Nambiar

At the beginning of your career you did a number of Clean Development Mechanism projects. Please elaborate on those.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), established under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, allowed developed countries to meet some of their climate obligations by funding greenhouse gas emissions-reducing projects in the developing world.For example, an investor from an industrialised country, can invest in, or finance a project in a developing country that cuts emissions of greenhouse gases. The investor earns credits – carbon credits – each equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These credits can be traded and sold, and used by the companies of developed countries – mostly Europeans – because the United States has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, to meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Though, that protocol has been superseded by the Paris Accords, which requires every country to contribute climate targets.

Is environmental science a growing career?

Those who care deeply about the environment can pick a career where you can pursue your passion for the environment. It’s a great time to do so as there’s a growing focus on environmentally-friendly practices in both the public and private sector due to issues such as climate change and pollution. Talking about myself, I participated in a lot of environmental volunteering programmes during my graduation days. My love for the environment was the prime reason to do a masters in Environmental Sciences. I was lucky enough to clear the written exam and got enrolled in TERI. Since then, the journey has been fantastic and I can assure others that this field has ample opportunities for growth. I have been in this domain since 2005.

Are companies taking climate change seriously?

Yes, they are. The fight against climate change is a collective one and everyone has to contribute. Some of the big companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Ikea have pledged to go 100% renewable in the near future. Computer maker HP recently launched laptops manufactured using ocean-bound plastics. HP estimates that the use of these plastics in devices will keep around 92,000 plastic bottles out of the oceans and landfills. From India, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) will invest Rs 75,000 crore over the next three years to set up four renewable energy ‘giga factories’ in Jamnagar, Gujarat. The best part is that the companies are being recognised and awarded for such green initiatives. For example, the recently concluded ‘ESG India Leadership Awards’ felicitated companies that achieved excellence in the sustainability space. Even the government is nudging industries to opt for pro-environmental behaviour. For instance, this year Market Regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) came out with disclosure requirements under business responsibility and sustainability reporting (BSSR), covering environmental, social and governance perspectives. It will encourage businesses to go beyond regulatory financial compliance and report on their social and environmental impacts. It will be applicable on the top 1,000 listed entities by market capitalisation.

Does going green make business sense?

Absolutely yes! What’s good for the planet is good for business. Going green offers several benefits for companies. These include improved efficiency, healthier workplaces, and cost savings. The benefits may not show in the short-term, but in the long-term it’s more than worth it. What I am witnessing now is that there’s a growing competition among businesses to reach net-zero emissions. To top it all, consumers respect companies that adopt eco-friendly practices.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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