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Cost and fragmented data emerge as top barriers to reducing carbon footprint

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
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And only 38% business leaders rate their decarbonisation efforts so far as very successful

  • New European report shows that lack of measurement, reliable data & leadership buy-in among are key obstacles to businesses’ decarbonisation progress
  • Three quarters of firms admitted that their environmental impact reporting would be improved by an emissions measurement tool
  • Three quarters of firms collaborating with cloud service providers report feeling successful in decarbonising.

Today, Coleman Parkes Research published a new report that seeks to answer the question “How are companies and business leaders managing their decarbonisation efforts to reach net zero in Europe by 2050?”. Commissioned by Atos and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Coleman Parkes Research surveyed 4,000 business people across three sectors, energy and utilities, financial services, and manufacturing, in four major European countries, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Against the backdrop of the Paris Agreement goals and the broader recognition to drive sustainable and digital transition towards an increasingly low-carbon society, almost all organisations surveyed (96%) have set emissions reduction targets. With this being merely the first step in a long journey, businesses across different sectors are facing diverse challenges in properly tracking their carbon footprint and delivering the necessary solutions to meet these targets.

The report suggests that while three in four business leaders believe that cloud technology would accelerate their companies’ journey to net zero by two years or more, there was still a fifth of the organisations who were yet to go cloud-first and thereby benefit from a reduced carbon footprint. Only 38% of business leaders surveyed rated their decarbonisation efforts to date as very successful.

Overcoming Fragmented Data

Among the key obstacles to businesses’ decarbonisation journeys were the impact that rising costs and economic uncertainty were having on their budgets, as well as the fragmentation of their internal data sets and insights. Robust data can be harnessed to provide deeper insights into a business’ environmental impact and to drive cost reduction, streamline operations and manage decarbonisation. In this study, over half of businesses cite ‘accurate and reliable data’ as one of the top three elements that they would find most helpful in the implementation of their carbon reduction plans.

Target Setting v. Performance Measurement Gap

Only just over half are measuring emissions scopes 1 (covering direct emissions from owned or controlled sources) and 2 (covering indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company). Less than a tenth cover scope 3 (which includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain), and just 14% are setting targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative for all three emissions scopes. Slightly at odds with these findings was the high levels of confidence among business leaders in their ability to control GHG emissions: 75% reported being confident of achieving their carbon reduction targets.

The Role of Technology

Among the countries in scope, UK and Spanish businesses are slightly ahead of the average in their decarbonisation initiatives; their investment in the cloud is one of the key solutions in achieving carbon measurement and reduction. Among a proportion of French and German businesses, more needs to be done in helping them to understand the real value that cloud can bring in the long term.

Almost a third of businesses surveyed said their technology solutions could be improved, and one in five said they lack the appropriate technology to see through their plans. 75% of business leaders admitted that their environmental impact reporting would be improved by an emissions measurement tool.

Quotes available:
Stephen Saw, Director of Coleman Parkes Research, remarked: “For me, two standout findings from the survey are: the level of commitment to Net Zero among European businesses leaders; and cloud service providers’ role in helping them achieve their targets. Around 70% of organisations have invested in cloud solutions to advance their sustainability programmes. And those that have digitalised all or most of their sustainability initiatives are most confident about hitting their decarbonisation targets.”

Chris Wellise, Director of Sustainability at AWS, said: “What I think is so interesting here is that business leaders who have already engaged cloud services think they are more successful in delivering carbon reductions. The data backs up this view, as cloud offers nearly any company or public body a less carbon intensive way of managing their IT. The other fascinating insight here is that around 3 in 4 business leaders see the cloud as accelerating their journey to net zero emissions by two years or more.”

Diane Galbe, Senior Executive Vice President, in charge of Sustainability & Net Zero Transformation Practice, Atos said: “The research clearly shows that decarbonization is now a priority for all businesses, and with the amount of data proliferating, not only within an organization but also between them, effective data management and cloud integration are becoming increasingly important. The power of digital in decarbonization cannot be underestimated. As the survey shows there is a demand for more digitalization and measurement to support decarbonization objectives. Our end-to-end service offering, backed by experienced decarbonisation specialists and which includes calculation and reporting tools, and low-carbon cloud offers, has real impact in enabling our clients to reduce their carbon footprint.”