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The Trail to Net Zero for Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

Business leaders can seize the opportunities on the trail to net zero, Sassoon Grigorian, Vice President of Government Affairs at Salesforce explains.

Businesses in Australia and New Zealand overwhelmingly support efforts to reach net zero emissions by 2050. With binding government commitments now is the time for businesses to adopt sustainability initiatives on the trail to net zero.

Salesforce is a net zero company, and achieved net zero emissions across its value chain, as well as 100 percent renewable energy for its operations. Sustainability is one of Salesforce’s core values along with Trust, Customer Success, Innovation and Equality. For over a decade, Salesforce has taken its own sustainability transformation journey, which has helped inform the Climate Action Plan and underpins the Net Zero-as-a-service platform to support businesses going carbon neutral faster. 

Salesforce commissioned these reports which reveal business sentiment towards Net Zero; and how adopting cloud can accelerate organisations journey to Net Zero:

The reports also provide recommendations to accelerate the path to net zero. Here are some of the key findings.

Business support for climate change action

The YouGov surveys commissioned by Salesforce found that overwhelmingly businesses support action on climate change. The findings clearly showed they prefer doing business with suppliers that have net zero targets and using cloud can help accelerate the net zero journey. 

In Australia, 80% of managers support net zero by 2050 and in New Zealand it was a similar figure, with 72% signalling their support for the target. On the question of whether enough is being done to address climate change and achieve net zero by 2050, 37% of Australian managers and 41% of New Zealand managers believe businesses in their industry should be doing more.

There are opportunities to be had. Businesses prefer to engage with other businesses that have a net zero target, with the survey revealing 68% of Australian and 56% of New Zealand managers are more likely to purchase products or services from a supplier business with this target.

Across Australia, the majority (87%) of managers surveyed believe technology will help achieve a net zero target by 2050 and in New Zealand 76% see a role for tech-driven solutions. However, 41% of Australian managers think the government needs to do more to achieve net zero by 2050 and the figure in New Zealand is higher, with 50% who want government to do more.

Technology advancements will need a workforce equipped with skills to work on climate change, such as environmental impact assessments, environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings, sustainable product design, circular economy advisors, and environmental accounting experts. The report recommends government and business to collaborate and address the sustainability skills gap through investments in training and learning programs.

To drive innovation in tackling climate change data will be paramount. Government and organisations could adopt a shared digital platform to bring transparency and accurate, timely data to track and forecast emissions. Drawing on a single source of truth when measuring and tracking emissions within organisations and supply chains will improve decision making on climate change initiatives.

The economic opportunity of a net zero economy

Government and business both have a role to play in developing awareness about the economic opportunities of a net zero economy. In particular, the potential for job creation. Around half of managers think that achieving a net zero economy by 2050 in Australia will result in more jobs than less jobs, while only 28% of managers in New Zealand believe it will lead to increased employment.

There are substantial cost savings to be made on the path to net zero. If cloud service providers source 100% 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$3.2 billion between 2022 and 2030 for businesses. In Australia, this would amount to AUD$2.86 billion cost savings between 2022 and 2030 from reduction in energy use.

A shift to cloud computing can also significantly lower carbon emissions compared to legacy infrastructure and this can be boosted if the cloud operates on all renewable power. Government can encourage the adoption of cloud computing to reduce energy consumption, waste generation and carbon emissions. The survey shows the majority of Australian managers support government intervention when it comes to enhancing sustainable practices. Some 81% of those surveyed support the government providing subsidies and incentives to businesses to develop renewable energy technology. In New Zealand, it’s at a similar level, with 79% of managers wanting government to support renewable tech businesses. 

To support these efforts, Salesforce believes innovation around climate technology will help reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency. This could take the form of business investment and government financial incentives for startups, ecopreneurs and partnerships between those working on innovative climate change initiatives.

There is also an opportunity to address environmental challenges with advanced technologies such as AI, improving data-led decision making in renewable energy and decarbonising technology. Projects to boost biodiversity, reduce pollution and protect marine resources by applying AI are happening and show what can be achieved.

Salesforce action plan for net zero

Australia and New Zealand are now committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 with binding government targets and policies to lead responses to climate change action. In support of these important initiatives, Salesforce has adopted a Climate Action Plan with six sustainability priorities across emissions reduction, carbon removal, ecosystem restoration, policy, education and innovation.

And we’re putting it into action. So far, we’ve funded more than 40 million trees and adopted 100% renewable energy for our operations. Salesforce has also announced a new global tree equity and urban reforestation initiative and a blue carbon program to conserve, protect and restore coastal and marine ecosystems. Salesforce is committed to being a supporter of sustainability and leading business on their path to net zero.

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Sassoon Grigorian

As Vice President, Asia Pacific, Government Affairs at Salesforce, Sassoon is responsible for matters involving government affairs and public policy, and works with Salesforce's public sector customers. Sassoon has previously worked for Fortune 500 companies: Microsoft; eBay and PayPal. Sassoon has worked in the NSW State Government as an adviser to a former NSW Premier. He has served on numerous industry boards and associations including being co-founder of the Digital Policy Group, Australia's leading group on digital policy matters. He is also co-founder of Remitt, a fintech start-up. Follow Sassoon on Twitter @sassoon_g

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