Climate action aligns well with being business savvy: Sanjay Sethi

Speaking at Climate Week NYC, Chalet MD & CEO shared how climate action makes better business sense

A year ago, Chalet Hotels Limited became the first company from the hospitality sector to have taken three commitments at one go – RE 100, EP 100 and EV 100. Now, speaking at Climate Week NYC’s session on India’s big idea, Sanjay Sethi, MD & CEO, Chalet Hotels Ltd, said that there can be several challenges, at state and national levels, to meet such goals but the situation is changing. 

“It is true of any federal democracy that there will be many challenges. Policies may not be consistent in every state, and you need to navigate them,” he said, adding that for some time, while trying to shift to renewable source-based electricity, Chalet couldn’t make headway in one out of the three states where they operate due to some legislative policies before these were changed. 

He also spoke on how switching to electric vehicles for the hotels, which maintain a large fleet for their guests, is a challenge. Chalet, he added, has a commitment to move to 100 per cent EVs by 2025 but Sethi is trying to achieve this goal next year. However, five-star luxury hotels require EVs with rear seat comfort. “Unfortunately, all EVs now come with driver comfort,” he said, adding that one premium carmaker has come out with an option that is very expensive and therefore, unaffordable. “So, we’re waiting for newer EVs to come out. I think the import duty part has to be looked into by the government to enable us to move quicker in that direction,” opined Sethi. 

Sethi shared that Chalet is an ESG-driven organisation that follows the ideology of its parent company, K Raheja Corp. “What is important for us is that Chalet has put its neck out a little more than others by committing to all the three goals. It is driven by the confidence that I have a very enabled, engaged and motivated team to deliver this. We are confident that we will deliver on all these three goals soon,” he said. Chalet’s climate strategy, at present, encompasses eight focus areas, 24 KPIs and 51 targets. They are also committed to 42 per cent reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2030 with the hope of improving that number in the near future.

Chalet has also undertaken initiatives like minimising single-use plastic, water management drives and electronic waste management. “We have brought down electricity consumption by 19 per cent from a base year of 2019 on a per-room basis. Water consumption has been brought down by 13 per cent while energy productivity has increased from base year 2016 by 73 per cent. We have zero wastewater discharge in our hotels and the cooking oil we use goes out to authorised dealers who convert it into biofuel. We are not there yet but are very motivated to get there quickly,” said Sethi.  

Speaking on unlocking growth and climate action side-by-side, he added, “I believe climate action aligns well with being business savvy. The big challenge today is not regulations etc as we will sort those out. The big challenge is the urgency of climate action. We are running out of time. From that perspective, we are living in a climate emergency now. We need concrete climate action, and we need it to be meaningful, comprehensive and collective. It needs to be amplified. We also need to focus on how we can align climate action with business needs.”

Sharing that he was looking at his business in the same manner, Sethi said that the millennials and Gen Zs are rapidly becoming their target audience. Millennials have a strong preference for products and services which are climate-friendly, and it is non-negotiable for them. As they are becoming primary target audience, it will be good business sense for an organisation to become climate friendly as well. 

“On the other hand, there is a very strong correlation between working on climate action and cost management, and we have seen that over the years. So, it is revenue friendly to be climate positive, cost-friendly and it is a no-brainer that we need to get there. More importantly, it is all for survival of the planet and therefore, business continuity,” he observed.

The session, India’s Big India’s big idea: A Roadmap for Net Zero, focussed on exploring how climate action can help unlock opportunities in India by bringing in policymakers and leading businessmen to the table.

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