New research: Businesses supportive of net zero target and believe tech will be key to achieve it

New research commissioned by Salesforce and conducted by Access Partnership shows that New Zealand businesses are not only supportive of the government’s net zero target but businesses’ use of such targets is also increasingly influencing their commercial decisions.

The Minister of Climate Change, Hon James Shaw launched the Trail to Net Zero for Aotearoa New Zealand report last night, at a roundtable CEO event held at Parliament in partnership with BusinessNZ.

The report examines sustainability efforts in New Zealand, provides insights on business readiness and offers policy recommendations for New Zealand to accelerate emissions reductions. The report also sets out five recommendations to advance New Zealand’s efforts in climate action.

Key findings

  • Businesses are increasingly using Net Zero targets to make commercial decisions: 56% of managers say if a supplying business had a net zero target, then it would make them more likely to purchase their products or services.
  • Job creation potential isn’t well understood: While 72% of businesses support the net zero target, only 28% of managers believed that achieving a net zero economy by 2050 would result in increased employment.
  • Support needed to reach net zero: 76% recognised the importance of technology to reach net zero and 50% of managers believed the government should be doing more to achieve net zero by 2050.
  • Cloud systems offer cost savings and emissions reductions: The report finds that if cloud service providers source 100 percent renewable power, as the major operators have pledged to do, the impact of New Zealand businesses migrating to such systems would equate to a 21 million metric tonnes (Mt) of CO2 emissions reduction, equivalent to the emissions from six coal-fired power plants in one year. A reduction of this scale would deliver cost savings of NZD$3.2bn between 2022 and 2030 for businesses.

Comments on the news

  • Managing Director of Salesforce New Zealand Hamish Miles: “Business is one of the greatest platforms for change and has a critical role to play in leading New Zealand’s transition to net zero.
  • “To convert intention into impact, emissions reduction must be well defined. It’s near impossible to improve something that you cannot measure consistently.
  • “Net Zero Cloud is available to help organisations easily track, analyse, and report reliable environmental data, get actionable insights and transform a complex accounting process that could take months into one that takes just weeks.”
  • “A natural next step is to adopt a shared digital platform to ensure better decision making and a single source of truth when tracking the emissions of organisations and their supply chains.”
  • “We are very conscious of our role as kaitiaki in Aotearoa and playing our part in dentsu’s global journey towards Net Zero. The implementation of Net Zero Now is highlighting exciting opportunities to drive meaningful progress and we’re looking forward to continuing to take steps in the right direction towards our net zero targets, and partnering with clients on their own sustainability journeys” - Robert Harvey, CEO dentsu Aotearoa.

Trail to Net Zero Report recommendations:

  • Develop cutting-edge climate technologies: New Zealand should support innovations that reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency. It should promote startups, ecopreneurs, and public/private partnerships, and those who are working on innovative climate change initiatives.
  • Address sustainability skills gap: Organisations need to focus on creating a workforce equipped with skills to work in the field of climate change. Upskilling initiatives should educate employees on the imperative for climate action and make decisions aligned with their goals.
  • Use Environment Artificial Intelligence (AI): There are many potential uses of harnessing AI to achieve sustainability outcomes. Early-stage projects are already underway to support the environment, including to bolster biodiversity, reduce pollution, and protect marine resources. Other potential uses of environment AI include smarter decision making for decarbonising industries and how to efficiently allocate renewable energy. Improvements in the availability and interoperability of data, will further support the application of AI across different sectors.
  • Increase investment in cloud: The New Zealand Government should encourage adoption of cloud computing considering its lower environmental impact. It reduces energy consumption, waste generation, and carbon emissions. This report reveals that a 0.4 million Mt CO2 emissions reduction in 2022 can be achieved by migrating to the cloud, which rises to 0.5 million Mt CO2 emissions reduction if the cloud operates fully on renewable power.
  • Adopt a shared digital platform to track emissions: Government and organisations should adopt a shared digital platform to track emissions and forecast emission patterns. Having a shared digital platform will ensure better decision making with a single source of truth when measuring and tracking their own emissions and potentially their supply chain.