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Critical Need For Identifying Climate Change Hotspots: Sanjiv Puri, ITC Chairman

ITC Chairman Sanjiv Puri has stressed on the critical need for identifying climate change hotspots and building resilience of key agricultural value chains though 'climate smart' agriculture

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Enterprises as large economic organs of the society have the responsibility to place societal value creation at the core of their corporate strategy and contribute towards climate change mitigation and adaptation, said ITC Chairman Sanjiv Puri at CII-ITC Centre for Sustainable Development's 17th Sustainability Summit. 

“Both climate change adaptation and mitigation require a multi-dimensional approach. In both, certain pathways have to be identified. For instance, capabilities around making green hydrogen easily available and ensuring carbon storage need to be developed and commercialized. There is a lot of work already happening in these areas,” said Puri.

The ITC Chairman emphasized that it is entirely possible for an enterprise to become climate positive and also play a role in nourishing the environment, as against depleting natural resources, he added. “It’s about building a sustainable future and turning risks into opportunities,” Puri said. He said that economically viable models for climate stewardship can be crafted for most sectors which are not only good for planet but also for the company's competitiveness.

He added that as an enterprise, ITC has been constantly focusing on reducing energy intensity, increasing renewable energy, and adopting a circular economy model. “These interventions are a part of our core strategy. With concerted efforts, I am happy to tell you that today, we are carbon positive, water positive, and solid waste recycling positive for more than a decade.”

Puri highlighted the fact that while decarbonisation efforts must be accelerated to arrest the rampant GHG emissions, it is equally, if not more critical, to focus on adaptation measures to ensure that we are not ill-prepared to deal with what is apparently the shape of things to come. He outlined how climate smart agriculture and efforts towards ensuring water security could be important interventions for climate change adaptation. He cited examples from ITC’s experience on the ground and the initiatives that the Company has spearheaded for water stewardship and climate smart agriculture.

Emphasizing on the need for a multi-pronged approach on the issue of adaptation, he said “The starting point, I believe, has to be a very comprehensive climate modeling to identify where the climate hotspots are. At ITC, we started this journey in 2020. There are other companies that are already doing this”. He felt that once a particular geography is identified as a hotspot, or a particular value chain is identified as vulnerable, targeted measures can be appropriately adopted.

He added that the next step in adaptation is to target specific hotspots based on detailed crop-specific and site-specific data. Highlighting the impact of ITC’s Climate Smart Villages initiative which covers over 4,50,000 farmers in 25,000 villages, Puri said that nearly 70% of these locations, which are more than five years old, have already been classified as high-resilience value chains.” He explained that through the process of building climate smart villages, ITC has been able to reduce emissions by upto 66% and increase farmers’ incomes between 40% to 90%.

Mentioning that 54% of India is water stressed, Puri emphasized on the need to focus on both demand side and supply side water management measures. Illustrating with an example from ITC, he said that while the Company’s large-scale soil and moisture conservation initiative cover 1.3 million acres, with over 25,000 community water harvesting structures built, its demand side management has also been extremely impactful, leading to a reduction of 40% across 14 crops.

Puri also mentioned that while climate change and depleting natural resources is a serious threat, we should not lose sight of the related concern of livelihood and social inequality. “So therein the importance of a ‘just transition’ is even more,” Puri added.

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climate change