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  • Practical Sustainability: Carbon Offsets that Improve Society with Aruna C. Newton

    September 19, 2022
  • Aruna C. Newton, Head of Diversity, Inclusion, Sustainability, and Reporting Governance at Infosys discusses practical ways companies can use carbon offsets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The discussion covers Infosys’ sustainability projects.

    Hosted by Jeff Kavanaugh, VP and Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute.

    “We decided that anything that we could not reduce we would offset through the carbon offset projects, mostly our travel emissions, and, of course, we have a completely different strategy to tackle that.”

    “I think what sets us apart is the care that we take to identify and select the project. Importantly, our team actually goes into the field and makes a firsthand assessment connecting directly with the proposed beneficiaries and tailoring the solutions that importantly would fit their context.”

    “I think the big piece about working with the community is to sustain the impact. Today our projects impact 11 out of the 17 SDGs.”

    “Own the impact that you want to create, get involved, and deliver the results. This approach would help us come a long way in doing all of this that we are doing together more effectively.”

    - Aruna C. Newton


  • According to the WBCSD, the built environment around us, including our homes and offices contributes about 40% to the global carbon emissions.
  • Infosys boasts about 28 million square feet of office space across our campuses with the highest rated green building certification. Infosys has large campuses with over 55 million square feet of office space. The use of technology has enabled remote monitoring, control, and optimization of Infosys’ operations across 155 buildings.
  • Today Infosys has over 60 megawatts of installed solar capacity. We are not an electricity generation company, but we own this. We're the first company in India to join the RE100 way back in 2015. And today about 54% of our electricity for India operations comes from solar. And in RFY-22 report, we also computed that about 53% of our electricity requirements and data centers come from solar.
  • Studies show that many carbon offset projects overstate their impact. The European Commission found that 85% of the projects it examined were not going to achieve their reduction claims. And then you've got this unreliable carbon market, and so companies have developed their own programs.
  • In the beginning our approach to carbon offsets was guided by the ethos of a larger social development. This ethos is something that has defined our business success since inception. In fact, this ethos also formalized the setting up of the Infosys Foundation way back in 1995 to continue to earn the respect of the community as an important stakeholder.
  • Our carbon offset projects were actually characterized by social economic benefits to the community. At that time we were making sure that we adopted a methodology that was credible and that was also robust, that was understood by the world and accepted.
  • Infosys has a portfolio, a group of community-based carbon offset projects. And these focus primarily on the socioeconomic development, like you mentioned, of overall communities. These projects address climate change and also benefit more than 184,000 rural families.
  • Since 2016, we've implemented about seven efficient cookstove projects, about three biogas projects, one rural electrification project, and one very special project. It's called an Integrated Community-based Project. It has the solar, the cookstoves, the street lighting, and also the public health center.
  • The collection of firewood for traditional cooking in many rural homes in India is normally given to the women and the girls in the household. So as a result, young girls actually risk their lives when they go out collecting this firewood in the nearby forests. They miss school. They miss out on education. The lady of the house who's cooking is inhaling the fumes from these stoves, impacting her health and the health of the family around her negatively. So, just this one effort to introduce cookstoves to allow the community to use biogas as a fuel source, elevated the game hugely. It allowed the women to enjoy a better quality of life. It allowed the children, the girl child in particular, to also attend school.
  • Our carbon offset projects have also created about 2,500 plus jobs for the youth in the community.
  • We use the three-pronged approach of reducing electricity consumption, investing in renewables, and of course, offsetting the emissions that we could not reduce. I think this approach and the social impact is what won us the United Nations Global Climate Action Award in the Climate Neutral Now category. The UN was very impressed with the way we had thought this through. The way we created an impact that just went beyond doing what might have easily been a takeoff. We didn’t just purchase credits in the carbon market and hope it could do the world a lot of good.
  • Market sustainability leaders need to own the impact that they want to create. They need to understand the projects that they can actually invest in, that they will be willing to be accountable for. Second, they need to get involved. I think it's important for you to get involved with the impacts that you want to create. For that is important for you to be connected with and understand the needs of the beneficiaries you hope to impact firsthand.

Show Notes

  • 00:06

    Jeff introduces himself and Aruna

  • 01:03

    What did Infosys do to reduce our carbon footprint before we turned to carbon offsets?

  • 05:19

    How did Infosys leadership develop a carbon offsets approach that would represent a true reduction in carbon emissions?

  • 07:43

    How did Infosys assure additionality with its carbon offsets?

  • 08:48

    Infosys has a portfolio, a group of community-based carbon offset projects. It sounds like more than a carbon offset. Did it set the carbon offset program apart? Can you comment on what it means beyond the carbon itself?

  • 12:27

    More companies than ever before have sustainability leadership positions. According to several studies, nearly eight in ten have an executive responsible for sustainability. What's the most important thing that corporate sustainability leaders should know to make their offset program successful?

  • 15:36

    Aruna shares her favorite sustainability resources.

About Aruna C. Newton

Associate Vice President and Head – Global Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainability Reporting and Governance, Infosys

Aruna C. Newton

Aruna started her career as a Cost Accountant and worked extensively in the area of sales and marketing, before coming home to learning and development. Over the last 25+ years, she has traversed many fields gaining a rich experience and perspective across organizations, people and functions.

As Associate Vice President, she leads Infosys Diversity and Inclusion and Sustainability Reporting and Governance portfolios. A leader in Executive Council at Infosys Bangalore Development Centre, she is also Founder Mentor of Green Connect, the Infosys environmental sustainability initiative powered by Infoscions.