Australian businesses, especially those in retail, recognise the imperative of achieving net zero emissions as a key driver for economic competitiveness and climate resilience, but indicates many companies are not acting quickly enough to address this urgent challenge, according to findings in the Schneider Electric Sustainability Index 2023 survey.

The report reveals that more than three-quarters (77%) claimed that sustainable transformation is needed to drive a competitive edge for companies. In retail, this figure was 80%, showing increased agreement on the benefits of sustainability.

Over two-thirds (69%) of businesses also agree that Australia must meet net zero emissions targets to remain economically competitive. Here, 71% of retail leaders saw sustainability as an economic imperative, above the national average.

Schneider Electric Pacific Zone President, Gareth O’Reillysaid, “It’s clear that businesses recognise the strategic importance of sustainable transformation. With less than 80 months until 2030, the challenge for businesses now is to fulfil that strategic opportunity at pace.”

Despite growing awareness and commitment to sustainability, the survey reveals that many businesses are falling short in implementing decarbonisation strategies. Only 52% of respondents across industries reported discussing or having a decarbonisation strategy in place. This indicates that a significant portion of Australian companies have yet to fully commit to the transition to a low-carbon future.

“To achieve the necessary emission reductions, it is essential that businesses set ambitious targets and map out the path to achieving them. Many of the steps companies can take to improve energy efficiency and introduce their own renewable energy supply will not only improve their bottom line, but also protect them from volatility in energy supplies and pricing,” O’Reillysaid.

When looking to 2030 decarbonisation targets, the survey reveals that 42% of companies expect to achieve zero Scope 1 emissions, which refers to direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Additionally, 37% aim for zero Scope 1-2 emissions, which adds indirect emissions from generation of purchased electricity, heating, and cooling consumed by the company. Finally, 34% of businesses aspire to achieve zero Scope 1-3 emissions, which encompasses all indirect emissions in the value chain, including those associated with the procurement and use of products and services and are the hardest to achieve. In retail, net zero expectations reach 43% for Scope 1, 39% Scope 1-2 and 33% 1-3, broadly in line with the national average.

O’Reilly reiterated the urgency for businesses to act swiftly. “Corporate Australia is ready to fully embrace sustainability, but we need to support businesses in turning these intentions to outcomes. Organisations must embrace sustainable transformation, prioritise digitalisation, and implement robust decarbonisation strategies now. The time for incremental change has passed; we must act with urgency to secure a sustainable and prosperous future. The moment is now.”