Indian IT giants cut carbon emissions by 85% as pandemic stops travel

by Joseph K. Clark

Spurred by the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Indian companies have shifted to more environmentally friendly operations. India’s five biggest IT services companies have slashed their total carbon footprint and travel costs as the global pandemic accelerates the use of green technologies. India-based company UnearthInsight found that Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, HCL Technologies, Wipro, and Tech Mahindra spent $370m on travel in the last financial year, 75% less than the $2.9bn spent in the previous year.

According to the findings, during this period, the Indian IT services industry has cut its carbon emissions by 85%, from two million tonnes to 0.3 million tonnes. The Indian IT sector traditionally relies on large domestic and international travel volumes. Over 2,000 Indian technology companies were surveyed. While the travel limitations brought by the pandemic have significantly reduced costs and carbon emissions, digital platforms have also reduced the need to travel. The Indian IT services community was already working towards reducing travel needs and using electric vehicles before the pandemic. Gaurav Vasu, CEO at UnearthInsight, said carbon reductions in the industry are sustainable.

“The outsourcing industry was on track for adopting hybrid working models and electric mobility even before Covid; however, the pandemic and quick adoption of digital tools/technology has dramatically changed the scenario, and today carbon emission reduction looks sustainable over a longer period,” he said. “Covid-19 disruption also made the largest industry players move from pilot to large-scale deployment of technologies like digital campus hiring platforms, which helped significantly reduce carbon emission earlier generated by travel to over one thousand campuses across the country,” UnearthInsight said.



UnearthInsight said up to 75,000 new starters in the sector were hired through end-to-end digital platforms of TCS and Infosys alone. Peter Schumacher, CEO of management consultancy The Value Leadership Group, said green issues are high on the agenda at Indian companies and that it goes beyond reducing travel. “The environmental soundness and good environmental practices are of a very high priority for the Indian companies, and that shows up in all their activity, and independent of Covid-19, companies in India focus on creating environmentally sound infrastructure,” he said. “Western companies can learn a lot from this,” said Schumacher.

He added that the rivalry and competition within India to create environmental infrastructures means progress is fast. ”Sustainable and environmentally friendly campuses that use solar power and re-use water are being built in place at a pace.” The focus on environmental and sustainability issues at Indian companies was recently highlighted by TCS, which announced an innovation hub in Amsterdam focused on sustainability. The center, part of a network of hubs known as TCS Pace Ports, will bring universities, businesses, startups, and government together at its latest innovation hub in Amsterdam to help use digital technology to solve sustainability challenges.

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