As India commits to global clean energy initiatives, TERI & WBCSD shares insights for effective climate change advocacy: On PRmoment Weber Shandwick Chai Talk

In June 2021, PRmoment India and Weber Shandwick India, kicked off Chai Talk in its first online avatar. The central theme was the 'Evolving Role of Public Affairs in Shaping Boardroom Strategies.'

Session 2 of 'Chai Talk Online' saw Amit Kumar, senior director (social transformation & knowledge management), TERI  and Joe Phelan, director, WBCSD India discussing  advocacy as an effective instrument in shaping climate change policies, in a post-COVID world. 

The session was moderated by Saptarishi Dutta, vice president - B2B communications and public affairs, Weber Shandwick India.

India's Global Commitment to Clean Energy Tech

Last week, there were two significant policy development with reference to India's commitment to clean energy goals. India joined 23 governments globally in launching 'Mission Innovation'. This is a network of global incubators across member countries to  accelerate clean energy innovation and adoption, in alignment with the Paris climate goals.  

Additionally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced that India has advanced its' target of 20 per cent ethanol blending in petrol by five years to 2025, from 2030.

The discussion accordingly kicked off with a question on how think tanks and public policy institutions can contribute to shaping climate change policy.

Responding to the question, Amit Kumar, senior director (social transformation & knowledge management), TERI said, "The most effective role that think tanks like us are providing is by way of private briefings and inputs to government bodies and government ministries. That's where our credibility comes to the fore as we are able to convene the kind of stakeholders that are required to be there. So that's the major thing that we do as think tanks. And as the problem becoming more urgent and more complex, our role also gets enlarged accordingly."

Taking the discussion forward Joe Phelan, director, WBCSD India, said, "With regard to the power sector, India's heavy industry is the focus of a lot of debate around the world about what should be done. And I think, you know, the biggest role, the most important action that can be taken is to improve understanding, domestically, internationally, with the financial markets about what the risk return picture is, what the level of investment in current assets is, what the business models, existing business models are. 

And where the challenges are in switching to cleaner power sources, but more importantly, where the opportunities are."

Better understanding is required across the system between power generators and those who consume the power, especially heavy industry.

Transition to clean power tech means that public affairs professionals have to help bridge the information gap between business leaders and the learnings that can be shared with each other in terms of what investments are making the best returns,  and what technologies can be applied in the Indian context, Phelan pointed out.

He also said strong emphasis on data collection and monitoring of risk assessment methodologies, and transparent reporting mechanisms, will help internally get clarity on the commercial case, and build a case for investment in clean energy.

WASH initiatives: SDG 6 

Industry in India uses between five and 10% of water, but as Phelan, shared it's at the end of the demand queue after homes and farmers.

Phelan emphasised, "And that's how it should be homes and farmers should get it first. So, it's imperative that industry works to support people upstream, and make sure they have enough water. 

What we've found is that the biggest impact that can be had on water availability is on interventions on the demand side. So it's important to make interventions on slowing down water flow through watersheds, more water harvesting. But by far the biggest impact lies in helping farmers increase their water efficiency in the main crops in your watershed."

To learn more about effective climate change advocacy watch the full video below. The video covers:

1) Value chain approach to public advocacy.

2) WSBD's 'India Water Tool' that shared shares Government verified water availability data.

3) Why litigating the Government to share climate change data is a public advocacy failure.

4) Why public affairs professionals should focus on collaboration rather than take position as regulator or regulated.

5) Why the case for investment in water efficiency is around  interruption of water supply.

6) Why politicians have limitations seeing the long term view beyond 5 years and how think tanks and expert advocacy groups can support that.

Do take a look:

Case Study: TERI's solar energy project for Benarasi Saree weavers

TERI Amit Kumar also shared the example of their project with companies via the CSR route to provide solar power options to the weavers of the famed Banarsi sarees.

Kumar shared that, "So, we have a set up around 238 solar hybrid charging units supplying electricity to I think close to 900 power looms and about 50 odd weaving units. What we are seeing is that on one hand, owners have been able to increase their incomes by 40% or so. And the weavers who because of lack of electricity were not able to put in the kind of hours they can put in, their incomes have also increased by close to 30%. 

So, these are the kinds of interventions that we are trying to make, of course, without CSR support, it would not have been possible for us to introduce this"

The session included audience Q and A that covered:

1) Role of public affairs in supporting MSMEs' and smaller firms downstream to adopt clean tech.

2) Aligning SDG goals with business objectives.

Watch the video here:

An audience poll highlighted that the top priority for public affairs communicators is the business case for clean tech:

Partnership Content

Chai Talk is brought to you by Weber Shandwick India in partnership with PRmoment India