India Outperforms Germany and UK in Climate Change Index, Championing Sustainable Manufacturing

Sustainable Energy and climate change and its imapact on manufacturing sector
Image by 38308446 from Pixabay

In the realm of climate change and sustainability, India is making remarkable strides. It is indeed a proud moment when we see India ranking 8th in the Climate Change Performance Index, surpassing countries like the UK (11th) and Germany (13th) among the G20 nations. However, the journey toward climate resilience is far from over, especially when we consider the manufacturing production ratio in India compared to leading European countries. Nevertheless, India’s progress on this front showcases a significant step towards raising awareness and fostering long-term success within the manufacturing community.  

The manufacturing industry plays a pivotal role in India’s economy, making substantial contributions to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and offering employment opportunities across various sectors. However, it is vital to acknowledge that manufacturing is also a significant contributor to India’s carbon emissions, which reached 2.88 gigatons in 2021. This sector not only emits a substantial amount of carbon, but also consumes significant quantities of energy and natural resources, such as water. Additionally, it generates waste that poses a considerable threat to the environment.  

Crucially, specific subsectors within manufacturing, including both ferrous and non-ferrous metals, chemicals, non-metallic minerals (such as cement), and heavy industries (including machinery and transport equipment), shoulder the primary responsibility for these emissions, energy consumption, and waste generation. Effectively addressing this challenge necessitates a priority shift towards decarbonizing their operations. This goes beyond merely seeking alternatives to fossil fuel-based electricity.  

To tackle this challenge, a comprehensive approach to sustainable manufacturing is required. This approach encompasses all aspects of the manufacturing process, from design and engineering methodologies to sourcing practices, operational processes, supply chains that extend to the end of the production line, and more. By infusing sustainability into each stage of the manufacturing process, enterprises can significantly diminish their environmental footprint.  

India has put in place several policies and initiatives to combat climate change:  

  1. National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): This comprehensive strategy outlines the country’s approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change. It includes eight national missions, such as the National Solar Mission and the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, focused on promoting renewable energy and energy-efficient practices.  
  2. Perform, Achieve, and Trade (PAT) Scheme: Under the NAPCC, the PAT scheme encourages industries to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Industries that surpass their energy efficiency targets can earn and trade energy-saving certificates.  
  3. Renewable Energy Targets: India has set ambitious targets for renewable energy capacity. The aim is to increase the share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix significantly.  
  4. Carbon Pricing Discussions: India has been exploring the possibility of implementing carbon pricing mechanisms to encourage industries to reduce emissions.  
  5. Waste Management Initiatives: Addressing waste generation, particularly in industries, is crucial. India is working on improving waste management practices and promoting recycling.
Quantified Goals Non-Quantified Goals 
To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 45 per cent by 2030, from the 2005 level. To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation, including through a mass movement for ‘LIFE’– ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change. 
To achieve about 50 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030, with the help of the transfer of technology and low-cost international finance including from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). To adopt a climate-friendly and cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at the corresponding level of economic development. 
To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, the Himalayan region, coastal regions, and health and disaster management. 
  To mobilize domestic and new & additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap. 
  To build capacities, create a domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting-edge climate technology in India and joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies. 
Source: PIB, Government of India 

To address the increasing carbon footprint in India, the solution lies in the adoption of sustainable business practices. A recent study conducted by SAP and Oxford Economics reveals that 62% of Indian businesses have clearly articulated their sustainability plans. This indicates a growing awareness among Indian businesses about the potential of sustainability to generate economic value. Furthermore, an increasing number of industrialists are realizing the need to overhaul their business and production methods to reduce their environmental impact, recognizing that sustainability is not just a passing trend.  

How Manufacturers Can Play a Part  

Manufacturers can play a vital role in promoting sustainable practices within their production facilities, supply chains, and among consumers. To truly mitigate environmental impact, we must standardize our production processes and products. While the importance of sustainability is gaining recognition, significant efforts are still required to translate sustainability ambitions into concrete actions.  

Businesses should adopt a circular economy strategy, with a focus on recycling and repurposing materials throughout the product life cycle. This approach involves responsible use of natural resources, a commitment to zero waste, and minimization of consumption.  

Many manufacturers now recognize the value of embracing cutting-edge technologies like automation and Industry 4.0. These technologies have the potential to substantially reduce costs and energy consumption through more efficient manufacturing processes that incorporate recycling and remanufacturing initiatives.  

ZED Certification: Empowering MSME towards Sustainability 

As Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) play a crucial role in driving economic development, fostering innovation, and generating employment, it is imperative to bolster their support system. The Government of India has introduced the Zero Defect Zero Effect (ZED) initiative to strengthen the competitiveness of MSMEs, promote sustainability, and position them as national and international leaders. 

The MSME Sustainable (ZED) Certification program is an extensive effort aimed at raising awareness among MSMEs about Zero Defect Zero Effect (ZED) practices. It encourages and incentivizes these enterprises to pursue ZED Certification while inspiring them to strive for excellence in their domain. As MSMEs embark on the journey toward ZED Certification, they can significantly reduce waste, boost productivity, foster environmental responsibility, conserve energy, optimize the use of natural resources, and expand their market reach.  

This initiative also encourages MSMEs to adopt best practices in work culture, product standardization, process improvement, and system optimization to enhance their global competitiveness and long-term sustainability. It’s important to note that the ZED Certification program is more than just a certification; it encompasses assessment, guidance, managerial support, and technological interventions to enhance the overall competitiveness of MSMEs. 
All MSMEs registered with the UDYAM registration portal will be eligible to participate in MSME Sustainable (ZED) Certification and avail related benefits/incentives. There are a total 39772 ZED certified companies in India that are making some progressive development towards sustainability. 

As more Indian businesses make sustainability a core value and integrate it into their operations, the country can make significant progress in reducing its carbon footprint. The shift toward sustainable business practices not only benefits the environment, but also enhances competitiveness, lowers costs, and contributes to a greener and more prosperous future for India.  

The journey toward sustainability has begun, and as more companies take concrete actions, the impact on India’s carbon emissions and environmental footprint will be substantial.  



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