The ripple effect of commercial activities chasing responsible motives – a glimpse of World Environment Day as seen by Caspian.
Delhi, through its power plants and its burning of municipal solid waste, spewed 19.33 million tCO2e of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere in 2014. The Indian cement industry is estimated to emit about ten times this number, annually. As Sterlite protests and government inaction to make corporate bodies pay for breach in environmental norms reach a peak in southern Tamil Nadu, are World Environment Days even relevant any longer?
At Caspian Impact Investments, we have been providing curated debt funding for early-stage SMEs for about five years now. It is our prerogative to not only ensure a loan is made to a self-sustaining enterprise, but also one which ensures sustainability of the living world it is part of. Our internal estimates present a GHG emission savings of approximately 19.45 tCO2e driven by the different debt structures we have facilitated in companies thus far – equivalent to Delhi’s 2014 emissions. Our intervention has also helped companies further businesses which have purified or helped conserve more than 120 million litres of water. Many of the companies we work with have overlapping social and environmental impacts, and it is difficult to isolate the influence leverage has exclusively on one parameter – leading to complexities for independent validation. We recognize that the work we are doing is but a blip in the humongous environmental degradation that we as a nation are wantonly supporting, but there has to be a start somewhere!
That is why we partner with a gamut of institutions providing solutions addressing the needs of other corporates and individuals – be it in cities or in the hinterlands – but with responsibility attached as a sine qua non. Two companies we partner with have productised energy efficiency and alternative energy for urban customers. Four of our portfolio companies have developed cleaner energy, fuel and water solutions for rural customers. Six dynamic institutions have grown their businesses of large-scale energy efficiency and EPC projects through small working capital debt structures offered by us which conventional lenders found difficult to address. One of these companies in fact works on releasing the hidden potential of chemical compositions in untapped compounds to bring about energy and water savings!
The road is a long one, and we cannot ever be the master corrector in the wrong tilt of the earth accentuated by human intervention. There is an urgent need for more focused investments flowing into responsible businesses, and being flexible enough to respond to the need of the customers instead of only throwing cookie-cutter products at them. The real significance of a World Environment Day can only be unveiled if each one of us recognize the potential of small drops of water to fill the ocean. We at Caspian are doing it the way we know, right down to checking the indiscriminate use of paper and plastic in our offices, and all it takes for everyone to also do their bit is by recognizing the small gaps which can be plugged. And if that is achieved, synergistic results would convert every day into a World Environment Day.