Greenpeace-Airtel talks break down

Greenpeace announced that its talks with Airtel over replacing diesel generators with solar other renewable power have broken down.

The talks were announced about two weeks ago when Greenpeace activists held talks with Airtel after an abortive attempt to climb on Airtel’s headquarters and paint anti-diesel slogans across its office.

“..the senior management representatives of the telecom giant along with those from Indus Towers (an Airtel joint venture), Bharti Infratel (Bharti Airtel’s fully owned subsidiary) and Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI), said COAI would report to Greenpeace in three months on possible areas of cooperation,” Greenpeace said, calling it ‘hiding behind an industry association.’

In the ultra competitive telecom market, where every paise has to be saved, Airtel cannot afford to switch to short-term more expensive renewable energy sources if its competition does not do so. Even without added costs, Airtel and Vodafone tend to have higher call rates than the new operators such as Reliance, Tata DoCoMo, Videocon and MTS.

Despite earlier having indicated that Airtel will give a commitment on the timelines for carbon emission disclosure and diesel phase out, it did not come up with a clear roadmap, In fact, it insisted that the entire industry needs to give commitment and will come back only after three months on what the entire industry will commit, Greenpeace said.

“It is unfortunate that Airtel failed to agree to our demands and thus there was no headway in the meeting. We are urging the company to reconsider its stand on the issue and come out clean in the public. ”said Divya Raghunandan, Campaign Director, Greenpeace India.

The current campaign is one the first high profile environmental campaign targeting a very prominent brand, with the exception of the ‘ratty’ game targeted at Tata by the same organization.

Greenpeace hopes to directly force companies to “mend their ways” like it has successfully done in other countries such as the US, instead of trying to bring in laws that will force the companies to lay off diesel, as most Indian environmental agencies try to.

It wants Airtel to commit to shift the sourcing of 50% of its energy requirements towards renewable energy sources and phase out diesel use in its business operations by 2015.


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