Auckland businesses struggling to reach carbon neutrality, says Microsoft

Alice Chambers
Alice Chambers
By Alice Chambers on 15 March 2022
Auckland businesses struggling to reach carbon neutrality, says Microsoft
Unsplash/swafie

The study was based on more than 800 business decision makers and employees from Auckland, New Zealand

Microsoft New Zealand has published the results of its sustainability report, Accelerating the Journey to Carbon Zero, which highlights how likely it is that companies based in Auckland, New Zealand, will become carbon neutral by 2050.

The study measured seven key areas in sustainability including business strategy connectivity; decarbonisation; funding and skills; accounting for natural capital; consideration of the value of natural resources in operations; infrastructure; supply chain resilience; and technological innovation.

In total, 71 per cent of companies included within the study received an average score in these categories.

“At the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last year, the New Zealand government committed to halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, to ensure we’re not emitting more than our ‘fair share’ of carbon,” said Russel Craig, national technology officer for Microsoft New Zealand. “While we Kiwis pride ourselves on punching above our weight on the world stage, we want to be doing it for the right reasons. That’s what makes it so important to measure businesses’ emissions, so we know where we are and how to chart out progress. We also need to identify where the barriers between intention and implementation are, so we can work on helping more organisations reach their sustainability goals faster.”

From the more than 800 business decision makers and employees surveyed across all industries in Aotearoa, New Zealand, around one-third said that their organisation was set to miss the 2050 target without help. Although, many businesses are hoping to see results by 2030 by adjusting materials used in buildings.

In addition, only 29 per cent of organisations said they had the right technology in place to implement their environmental sustainability strategies, while just 38 per cent have sufficient workers with the skills and knowledge to carry them out. Consequently, Microsoft found that sustainable technology needs to be made more available.

The report’s key recommendations to accelerate business sustainability include measuring the emissions produced by individual businesses, innovating and improving access to finance for sustainable transformation, adopting technology to enable change, and investing in skilling and building in-house expertise.

“New Zealand is getting much better at collaborations; there’s been a real recognition in the last few years that collaboration is the way to go,” said Rachel Brown, CEO of the Sustainable Business Network. “The tricky thing is how do we do that genuinely, and not just take the ticking boxes approach? It’s about acknowledging there’s elements we can learn from each other, and how do we do it better?”

The cost estimates for environmental sustainability solutions were also found to be double that of other industries such as agriculture, transport and logistics.

“There’s a real disparity when it comes to the perceived cost of sustainability measures, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality,” said Chris Brauer, director of innovation at Goldsmiths University in London, UK. “It’s worth noting that many of our respondents believed strong performance on environmental measures would actually be essential to their industries’ competitiveness and resilience in the future.”

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