Indian mogul Mahindra pledges to align with Paris climate agreement

The chair of a $19bn Indian conglomerate committed to science-based targets, saying all efforts to cut carbon ‘have given us a return’

Anand Mahindra, chair of Mahindra Group (Pic: World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Sebastian Derungs)

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One of India’s top twenty corporations has committed to aligning its operations with the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

The Mahindra Group will set science-based targets for each subsidiary, said its chair Anand Mahindra. The conglomerate spans 20 industries, including automotive, agricultural and clean energy.

Cutting carbon is good for business, he told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.

“Everything that our group of companies have done to try and improve energy and to try and reduce greenhouse gases has actually given us a return,” said Mahindra.

“We have to keep drumming the message that climate change is the next century’s biggest financial and business opportunity.”

For example, he claimed they had saved 58 million kWh of energy in five years, enough to power 15,000 Indian homes: “That saved us money.”

Having a sense of social purpose also helped the firm attract and retain talented staff, Mahindra said.

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The group, worth an estimated $19 billion, is supportive of prime minister Narendra Modi and his government’s aspiration to sell only electric vehicles by 2030. Its electric car racing team is leading in the world Formula E championship after winning the ePrix in Marrakesh this month.

Mahindra’s steelmaking and information technology businesses are among 330 companies to have already signed up to the science-based targets initiative. Backed by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the World Resources Institute, WWF and UN Global Compact, the initiative challenges companies to cut emissions at a rate consistent with holding global warming below 2C.

Mahindra said he would advocate among his business peers to expand the club to 500 by September, when governor Jerry Brown is to host a major climate summit in California, US.

“Setting science-based targets is a great way for businesses to future-proof growth and boost their competitive advantage in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said CDP chief executive Paul Simpson in a statement. “We hope that many businesses will quickly follow Mahindra’s lead.”

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