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Research reveals companies are stepping up on climate change amid concerns that Australia is lagging

Sydney NSW, Australia


Australian businesses are accelerating their moves towards net zero carbon emissions, despite concerns at the lack of federal government action, new research with leading corporate decision makers reveals.

Most companies are driving forward their own plans for sustainable transformation, adopting renewables, new technology and setting sustainability targets, but want to see more government action.

The study, commissioned by the global leader in the digital transformation of energy management, Schneider Electric, explored the opinions of 500 national business decision makers on climate, sustainability and the energy transition. Leading businesses including Coles, Thales, ANZ, Westpac, Telstra, and H&M participated in the research. 

The study reveals 9 in 10 key decision makers believe it's time for organisations to accelerate sustainability plans, with 72% stating that Australia must commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Nearly two thirds (62%) of businesses surveyed said the federal government was not doing enough to combat climate change, and a similar proportion (64%) believe Australia is lagging behind other developed countries on the issue.

Although 67 per cent of respondents said the federal government could have the biggest impact on climate change, companies were rated as the next most impactful (51%), followed by state governments, then individuals (35%).

The findings reflect the growing sentiment across the business community supporting stronger action on sustainability and climate. The Minerals Council of Australia, National Farmers’ Federation and the Australian Industry Group have all publicly declared the need for stronger action against climate change, while the Business Council of Australia has just called for a 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2030.

Innes Willox, Chief Executive of national employer association Ai Group commented: “This research reflects what we have been hearing loud and clear from industry: they welcome stronger emissions action and commitments across major economies, and Australian businesses are making growing commitments themselves.

“We are seeing companies join the energy transition, embracing renewables and energy efficient technology. They are ready to support and collaborate with government as it evolves and improves its climate strategy, but they want clear directions.

“Business wants to see strong emissions targets for 2050 and 2030 that will put Australia in the mainstream of advanced economies and guide immediate action and long-term decision-making across governments and agencies."

Initiatives being adopted by businesses include renewables, with two thirds of companies stating they were moving to purchase renewable power, and 64 per cent said they were looking to install solar power on their sites. Twenty six per cent said they were installing, or had made a decision to install, microgrids.

Pacific Zone president for Schneider Electric, Gareth O’Reilly, said: “While it’s concerning to see that almost two thirds of those who took part in the study believe Australia is falling behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to climate action, we are encouraged that so many companies are prioritising and accelerating their own initiatives.

“Australian companies are conscious about being left behind as the world moves towards net zero, and they want to take advantage of the opportunities that a sustainable future can offer.

“What this study reveals is that Australian businesses are telling us it’s time for government to work with them. In fact, over half of the respondents saw companies as the most impactful agents of change after the federal government.

“There is a great opportunity for businesses to harness this atmosphere of ambition to work collaboratively with all levels of government to accelerate sustainable transformation.”

“Climate change cannot be addressed by a single organisation, industry, country, or government alone; collaboration will be the key to making those changes a reality.”

The research highlighted the importance of digital to the energy transition, two thirds of respondents stated that digital was playing a key role in achieving sustainability goals.

Gareth O’Reilly added that digitisation and electrification were critical to the fight against climate change.

“Digitisation enables transparency and control - the monitoring and enhancement of processes from manufacturing to supply chains - and it empowers automation.

“With digital data we can match consumption to actual demand and increase energy efficiency with data-driven insights, and with AI we can implement in real time.”

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