The right technology could ensure retail’s net-zero goals, says Microsoft

The right technology could ensure retail’s net-zero goals, says Microsoft

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Despite commitment to 2050 sustainability targets, many retailers struggle to drive change

Elly Yates-Roberts |

A new report from Microsoft Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) and a research team at Goldsmiths, University of London, has outlined a seven-step blueprint to help the 25 per cent of Australian retailers that are expected to miss 2050 net-zero targets. 

The report, titled Accelerating the journey to net zero: The retail experience, shows that while 72 per cent of retailers have committed to net-zero emissions, many are struggling to operationalise their ambitions. For 37 per cent of respondents, this is due to a shortage of in-house sustainability expertise, while 29 per cent cite their business’s inability to access technology such as emissions measurement and reporting software.

“Our research indicates that retailers are overwhelmingly committed to a more sustainable future, but many simply don’t have the resources or direction they need to get there,” said Brett Shoemaker, sustainability director at Microsoft ANZ.

Despite the lack of progress, retail compares well against other industries, particularly since its Scope 1 and 2 emissions (direct emissions from on-premises energy use and staff business travel) are relatively small. The majority of the industry’s carbon emissions come from the value chain, including the extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. 

The Microsoft report suggests that emissions-heavy supply chains could be improved with the right technology. In fact, 88 per cent of Australian retailers say that technological innovation has a key role to play in improving their sustainability performance. However, only 39 per cent of these are investing in these solutions.  

Similarly, many retailers understand the value of carbon mapping software and emissions visualisation dashboards, but fewer than half are actually implementing them.

Microsoft’s report offers a seven-step blueprint to tackle these challenges and help retailers achieve their net-zero goals. “Our study shows that leaders are struggling to operationalise their sustainability plans,” said Shoemaker. “So, we have created a blueprint using insights from leading experts, academics and Australian organisations, to help them accelerate their progress.”

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