Australian business leaders agree that sustainability commitments are great for the bottom line, with almost two-thirds of Australian c-suite executives in a survey agreeing it delivers a competitive edge.
The research, funded by Schneider Electric, covered 500 decision-makers in some of the nation’s largest companies.
Besides that, 77 per cent of business leaders agree that sustainable products and services have become an expectation for consumers and investors and 60 per cent report that investors and financial institutions are becoming increasingly focused on a company’s sustainability strategy.
But the survey also suggested there is a gap between recognising the importance of sustainability commitments in business – and the pace of delivering an actual commitment. While nine in 10 respondents to the survey said they believed their organisations should accelerate their sustainable transformation, just under 40 per cent of respondents have a sustainability roadmap in place and another 30 per cent are discussing one.
However, more than a third have increased their investment in sustainability over the past three years.
Schneider Electric Pacific zone president and MD Gareth O’Reilly says the company is seeing a growing number of businesses wanting to integrate alternative energy management systems into their corporate strategy, with many exploring the use of microgrids and solar on an industrial scale to help provide a more competitive advantage.
The majority of businesses surveyed are implementing renewable energy, 64 per cent are discussing or have begun purchasing renewable energy and the same percentage are considering or installing solar power, with 43 per cent discussing or installing microgrids – a self-sufficient energy system that serves a discrete geographic footprint, such as a factory, hospital complex, business centre or neighbourhood.
“Our study shows that 90 per cent of Australian organisations understand and support the need for a greener and more responsible approach to energy,” said O’Reilly. “Climate change has become a defining factor in the long-term prospects of many businesses and the next 10 years will be critical to their future growth.”
In fact, 72 per cent of survey participants said they believe Australia must commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“We see electrification and digitisation as inseparable and critical parts of the fight against climate change. A successful corporate sustainability strategy needs to be designed and implemented end-to-end to accelerate the delivery of concrete results across the business,” said O’Reilly.
Among the survey participants was supermarket operator Coles. Chief sustainability, property and export office, Thinus Keeve, said the company has set a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 as part of its Together to Zero sustainability strategy.
“Net-zero emissions by 2050 is an ambition that aligns with the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming and will guide Coles’ ongoing work to drive sustainability in all parts of our business.
“We know this isn’t something we can do on our own and we will need to work with our team, customers, suppliers and communities to make a meaningful difference and reach our targets,” Keeve said.
“As a significant step towards our net-zero ambition, we have contracts in place with renewable energy providers that will allow the entire Coles Group to be powered by 100-per-cent renewable electricity by the end of FY25.”
- Main image: @ake73 via Twenty20.