Nine in 10 companies expect to accelerate their sustainability activities over the coming year as businesses recognize their role in tackling climate change, an AVEVA-commissioned survey of over 850 c-suite and digital transformation experts shows.
About 80% of leading industries want to increase their digital investments to drive sustainable business models, demonstrating the enormous potential of advanced technologies such as smart data, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing in enabling net-zero and lower carbon industrial operations, explained Lisa Johnston, chief marketing officer and chief sustainability officer at AVEVA.
“Companies around the world have committed to reducing their environmental footprint. AVEVA believes the business community must now go further, by way of positive contributions to sustainability through our activities and partnerships – or in other words, our sustainability handprint,” she continued.
She opined that data infrastructure management solutions can help thousands of very different businesses find innovative routes to achieving their sustainability goals and becoming climate positive.
Achieving net-zero commitments
Comments and recommendations shared by participants in a panel discussion on the topic include:
Incorporate sustainability into your KPIs: Olivier Blum, chief strategy & sustainability officer at Schneider Electric, said companies should develop sustainability strategies in the same way they have strategies for other areas, such as finance or human resources.
Potential CO2 emissions should be factored into the design of new assets, for example, to improve sustainability and accelerate the climate transition, he said. Mapping sustainability KPIs to the rest of the business can deliver the critical results required.
“Sustainability is like any area of business. You should have a sustainability strategy. It should be fully integrated with your business strategy,” Blum said.
Use data to predict innovation: The application of predictive analytics to industrial data collected across the value chain can reveal new routes to innovation. Energy major Ørsted operates an extensive fleet of 1,000 offshore wind turbines.
Continuous data monitoring means that fleet represents 1,000 different experiments providing feedback to produce future assets, said Jesper Skov Gretlund, senior manager, numerical competence centre, Ørsted. Innovation is a continuous process of refinement, and advanced technologies such as AI and big data facilitate that process. Ørsted is on track to becoming carbon-neutral by 2025.
Extend your handprint with partnerships: Neste works with suppliers that share its sustainability commitments on its path to achieving carbon neutrality in production by 2035. The company uses data collected across its value chain to improve its operations and to help other companies reduce their emissions, said Salla Ahonen, vice-president of sustainability, Neste.
“We are looking at how we can actually transform our whole value chain and how we can help others transform,” she said.
Data can offer positive routes to improving a company’s handprint, she added. In the process, the whole ecosystem can realize its net-zero goals.
Measure everything for sustainability at scale: Thousands of companies are setting net-zero targets, but achieving them requires better measurement tools, said Lucas Joppa, chief environment officer at Microsoft. The software leader has committed to becoming a carbon-negative company by 2030. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” he said. Since carbon is the building block of life, measuring it requires monitoring every aspect of the business.
“Digital technology is that tool in the [corporate] toolbox that lets us go at the kind of scale that sustainability requires, and at the scope that sustainability requires,” Joppa said. The panel concluded that industries are no longer forced to compromise competitiveness in the short term to pursue a more sustainable future.