What’s really driving corporate climate action?


2019 ice

(Unsplash, 2019)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum. 

Author Philippe Delorme, Executive Vice President, Energy Management Business, Schneider Electric

The theme of Globalization 4.0 at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos brings together the current digital revolution and its growing integration among people, companies and governments. Innovation combined with a society mobilized for action is the path to solving global challenges, including climate change.

However, this issue is complex and multi-layered. Because it’s not only about taking steps to cultivate a sustainable environment, progress needs to happen in a way that supports financial growth. A healthy planet with healthy economies is the ultimate goal.

It is with this end in mind that companies around the world are moving forward, taking the lead in efforts to slow global warming. By demonstrating that the bottom line is not in conflict with resource efficiency and carbon management, the business community is demonstrating the potential impact and positive effects of social responsibility.

To better understand what is driving corporations to address climate change and the progress made to-date, Schneider Electric partnered with Greenbiz Research to survey energy and sustainability professionals from large companies ($100 million or more in annual revenue) around the world. The findings, which you can view here, show that public sustainability commitments have affected attitudes and actions, and conservation measures such as efficiency improvements and renewable energy are being adopted en masse.

While these are promising advances, the research also reveals areas for improvement — such as shifting views of project and programme financing, better data quality and sharing, and more investment in new technologies. Given the urgency of the overarching problem, these are issues that require urgent attention.

Here are four key findings from the research:

1) Public sustainability commitments are driving action and can accelerate corporate gains

More than half – 57% – of the companies surveyed have made public sustainability commitments, and setting public goals seems to be driving action. Companies that have made a public commitment use almost all available strategies and technologies at a higher rate, including on- and offsite renewables, combined heat and power, and clean fleet technologies.

Companies located in Europe are twice as likely to make a public commitment than those in North America or Asia-Pacific. And companies that are making commitments are more driven by brand awareness and environmental concerns than companies that have no public commitment.

Image: Schneider Electric

2) Capital for projects is available if there is a demonstrated return on investment and executive leadership

Contrary to common perception, capital isn’t the only thing — or even the primary thing — standing in the way of more energy and sustainability projects.

While many companies struggle with making the business case for resource-efficiency and carbon-reduction initiatives, 51% of respondents who said they are successful indicated that demonstrated return on investment (ROI) was the key to success, while 30% cited executive leadership. Only 10% pointed to available capital.

Image: Schneider Electric

The research also showed a positive correlation between more data and a successful business case. A full 90% of respondents who agreed that “departments see all data from other functions or peer groups” also felt they were successful at making business cases, and getting funds for projects and programs.

3) Lack of data isn’t the challenge — it’s data quality, internal sharing and collaboration that are barriers

The companies surveyed are generating a lot of energy and sustainability data. Utility bills are the most common source of data – used by 89% of companies – followed by energy management systems at 73% and spreadsheets at 52%. But nearly half feel their data is unreliable, 41% feel they don’t have the right tools to manage the flow of information and 40% say they lack the expertise to analyze this data.

Only 22% of companies share all energy and sustainability data across relevant departments, while 21% share no data between departments – a clear area for improvement.

Image: Schneider Electric

4) Energy efficiency dominates, renewable energy accelerates and newer technologies are gaining traction

A huge majority – 93% – of respondents are working to be more energy and resource-efficient. Renewable energy use is also on the rise, increasing 12% compared to similar research conducted in 2018. Technologies such as combined heat and power and battery storage have a lower adoption rate but show 11% growth year over year.

To meet climate goals, the world needs to scale renewable energy six times faster than the current pace and global corporations are driving the renewable energy boom. Nearly 160 of the world’s leading companies have already pledged to move to 100% renewable energy.

Image: Schneider Electric

So what can companies do to improve their energy and sustainability programmes?

Overall, this new research reveals promising indications that companies are making headway in the fight against climate change. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring more data and new technologies, and companies need to ensure they have the right tools and expertise to navigate this landscape. Their opportunities for improvement include:

Provide access to good quality energy and sustainability data, aggregated in a cloud-based platform that ensures consistency across the enterprise

Engage corporate leadership to support building business cases for energy and sustainability projects

Make a public commitment to sustainability — whether through an established initiative like RE100 and science-based targets, or by setting company-specific targets

Explore renewable energy generation, storage and load-shifting strategies to both reduce emissions and enable new financial opportunities.

Companies that embrace decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization will have a strong advantage both now and in the future.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

To recruit younger people, you have to understand them. Here’s a guide

DR Congo: ‘No time to lose’ says newly appointed UN Ebola response coordinator

The European Agenda on Migration: EU needs to sustain progress made over the past 4 years

Security Council welcomes Yemen breakthrough, but lasting peace remains a ‘daunting task’

EU will not deliver on promises without democratic accountability

Moratorium call on surveillance technology to end ‘free-for-all’ abuses: UN expert

Inclusion and diversity isn’t just good for employees – it’s good for the bottom line

EU gas market: new rules agreed will also cover gas pipelines entering the EU

Me and China

Do we judge robots on their colour? This study says we do

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of L3 Technologies by Harris Corporation, subject to conditions

Social Committee slams the 28 EU leaders for false promises

Three reasons to be optimistic for the future of Asia

EU regional differences betray an unjust arrangement

The time is up but the game is still not over for Greece: negotiations continue in anticipation of a new deal

Fostering global citizenship in medicine

Factory workers are facing a mental health crisis. Here’s how to respond

UN chief condemns air strike that hit school bus in northern Yemen, killing scores of children

Our poisonous air is harming our children’s brains

Bank resolutions to remain a politically influenced affair

Instability in Africa’s Sahel, spreading outwards, Security Council told

Want a sustainable business? Hire in talent

UN’s Bachelet addresses progress and setbacks in human rights worldwide

Governments and non-state actors need to take urgent action to meet Paris Agreement goals

Mental health in a pandemic: what to do to ease the burden on people with disabilities?

From cheeseburgers to coral reefs, the science of decision-making can change the world

ECB ready to counter the rise of the euro?

Britain’s poet laureate has created a prize to highlight poetry about the climate crisis

Coronavirus (COVID-19): The truth against the myths

How oysters are cleaning New York’s polluted harbor

rescEU: EU establishes initial firefighting fleet for next forest fire season

Yemen update: UNICEF chief condemns attack in Taiz that claims lives of seven children

Our food system is pushing nature to the brink. Here’s what we need to do

Yemen: 11 more ‘terrible, senseless’ civilian deaths reported, following attack in Sana’a – top UN official

After globalization what? Europe’s long, straining shake-up post Davos wreckage

Fear casts again a cold, ugly shadow over Europe; Turkey sides with Russia

Gender parity can boost economic growth. Here’s how

UN experts urge United Arab Emirates to release terminally ill woman to live her last days ‘in dignity’

Financial Transaction Tax: More money for future bank bailouts?

Commission presents its response to Antisemitism and a survey showing Antisemitism is on the rise in the EU

Make this the year of ‘transformative solutions’ to avert disastrous climate change: UN Deputy Chief

This ‘hidden killer’ is responsible for one in five deaths, and you might never have heard of it

The European Council takes more measures to stem illegal migration

The Europeans back Russia-Turkey on Syria: A ‘Waterloo’ for Saudis and their Crown Prince

How we can work together in the fight against NCDs

Sustainable Development Goals: making the world a better place

Climate change is forcing 20 million people a year from their homes, Oxfam says

German heavy artillery against Brussels and Paris

How has tech been used for good in civil society? We asked the experts

UPDATED: Thousands flee fighting around Libyan capital as Guterres condemns escalation, urges ‘immediate halt’ to all military operations

These countries spend the most on education

Why a coronavirus vaccine takes over a year to produce – and why that is incredibly fast

The 28 EU leaders don’t touch the thorny issues

The Ukrainian crisis to destabilize Europe and the world for a long time

Next time you fly, could you be boarding a train instead of a plane?

Cutting money transfer fees could unlock $15bn for developing countries. Here’s how

A silver bullet won’t solve a green problem

Handwashing is not just for coronavirus – how good hygiene could help reduce antibiotic use

How Germany strives to mold ECB’s monetary policy to her interests

MEPs commend Ukraine‘s reform efforts and denounce Russian aggression

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s