COP28 has come and gone. There have been umpteen reports that tell you very little was achieved. There were some intentions and proclamations though: to phase out unabated coal power; triple renewable energy, and double energy efficiency. Crucially, the world did acknowledge the need for a loss and damage fund to mitigate the havoc being caused by climate change in the global South. However, the monies the developed world undertook to cough up may be too less to make a difference, and even worse there are scarce details of who will benefit from it.

However, what did move a step forward at COP 28 were businesses promising to take decarbonising more seriously and accelerate the effort across heavy-emitting sectors. Indian companies, too, did their bit. They were brought on board by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Consequently, the process saw some 25 Indian companies, especially those that belong to the hard-to-abate sector, coming forward to participate in the Industrial Transition Accelerator (ITA), one of the two initiatives that were launched under the Global Decarbonization Accelerator (GDA) programme.

As the name suggests, the idea is to help hasten the decarbonisation process and control emissions from these sectors. ITA is backed by a $30-million investment from COP28 Presidency, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and some others.

Indian signatories

The Indian companies which have signed up are in the cement, steel, aluminium, and power sector and include Ultratech, Dalmia, Adani, Tata Steel, Jindal, JSW, Vedanta, Hindalco, Hero Future Energies, Jackson Group, ACME Group, Avaada Group, Suzlon, Waaree Energies, among others.

So, what is their mandate? It is to “accelerate decarbonisation across key heavy-emitting sectors and encourage policymakers, technical experts and financial backers to work hand-in-hand with industries to unlock investment and rapidly scale the implementation and delivery of emissions-reduction projects.”

Faustine Delasalle, Chief Executive Officer of the Mission Possible Partnership (MPP) that is hosting the initiative and who is the executive director of the ITA Secretariat has explained it further. She has said that ITA will give them “the breadth and scale to create a flywheel of collaboration that can create exponential change”.

And how will they do it? Though these are very early days of the initiative, Adair Turner, Chair of the Energy Transitions Commission, had given some insight into what is on the cards. He said that analysis from MPP has shown that delivering the global emissions reductions would require 300 sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plants, 200 ships using zero-emissions fuel, 70 zero-emissions steel plants, 40 new low-carbon smelting and refinery plants and over 40 commercial-scale carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) plants. And to make this possible hard-to-abate industries will require a gamut of technologies to be commercialised and deployed to cut emissions at scale. These would include green hydrogen, long duration storage and CCUS.

To achieve this, ITA intends to “connect companies in developed and developing countries to relevant existing initiatives and engage international policymakers and international organisations to address cross-sectoral challenges.” This, of course, would also require the cooperation of national governments, hence the ITA would work with partner countries to deliver the objectives on the ground.

Net-zero operations

The GDA programme also launched the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter (OGDC) at COP28. There were 52 signatories who committed to “net-zero operations by 2050 at the latest and ending routine flaring by 2030 and near-zero upstream methane emissions”. From India, ONGC was the sole company to sign up for it.

However, there have been no Indian takers so far for the COP28 Net-Zero Transition Charter: Accountability mobilisation for the private sector. It encourages organisations to make public net-zero emission pledges and targets and produce credible and transparent transition plans, and publish periodic, accurate, complete, and transparent reporting on their progress.

As for the ITA initiative, CII which was closely associated with the COP 28 Secretariat on it, will now be partnering with MPP as the industry association which will work with the companies that have signed up to take forward the ITA work programme.