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How APAC Businesses Are Rising To The Climate Crisis Challenge

The Climate Crisis Calls for Bold Action. Here’s How APAC Businesses Are Rising to the Challenge

As Net Zero Cloud has emerged as a powerful tool in the fight against climate change, here's a checklist of how APAC businesses can go about the mission.

Our planet is in the throes of a climate emergency. But we’re far from powerless. Through proactive and sustained action, we can begin to fix what’s broken right here, right now. As part of #TeamEarth, all of us – individuals, businesses, and governments – have a chance to build a better, more equitable, and sustainable future.

A recent Salesforce webinar, Trail to Net Zero in the Asia-Pacific (APAC), explored how businesses and governments across APAC can achieve net zero emissions faster, together. Panellists from India, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand discussed what sustainability means to APAC businesses, how to accelerate climate action, and why technology is integral to these efforts.

Moderated by Gourav Sinha, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Net Zero Cloud at Salesforce, the webinar featured four sustainability visionaries and thought leaders:

  • Faiza Saleem, Manager, Global Government Advisory, Access Partnership
  • Lim Boon Pin, South East Asia & Asia Emerging Countries Sustainability Manager, HP; Co-chair, Sustainability Committee, SGTech
  • Mike Burrell, Executive Director, Sustainable Business Council, New Zealand
  • Sharmila Barathan, President, Corporate Affairs & Policy, GE South Asia & Board Member, GE India Industrial Private Ltd.

Here’s what we learned from the discussion:

Net zero initiatives across APAC businesses are picking up pace…

Attitudes to sustainability are fast evolving as businesses realise what’s at stake if they don’t act quickly. Emissions reduction – once a footnote in corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports – is now an integral part of strategic discussions.

“Businesses are taking faster and more meaningful action around sustainability,” said Burrell. “We’re seeing a lot more Chief Sustainability Officers, a lot more alignment between sustainability and corporate planning, and greater funding for the sector.”

Companies have also recognised the growth opportunities inherent in transitioning to net zero. More than half (58%) of business managers in India think that achieving a net zero economy by 2050 will result in more jobs, not less.

Here are some examples that can be thought-starters for companies of all sizes.

At Salesforce, we use 100% renewable energy for our operations, and have funded more than 40 million trees as part of our initiative to plant 100 million trees. Today, we’re proud to be a net zero company.

“At HP, we’ve increased the use of post-consumer recycled content plastic in our products,” said Boon Pin. And apart from responsibly sourcing our own HP-branded paper, we’re counteracting deforestation for non-HP paper used in our printing solutions through the HP Sustainable Forests Collaborative.”

Adds Barathan, “GE is innovating around three pressing sustainability challenges – one, driving the energy transition to drive decarbonization; two, delivering precision health solutions that can personalise disease diagnoses and treatments; and three, enabling a future of smarter and more efficient flight.”

These initiatives remind us that business can be the greatest platform for change – and that by doing good, we can also do well.

…but industry and government support will be essential to create lasting impact

Given the enormity of the net zero task, companies are fast realising that they can’t handle it alone. Collaboration with stakeholders and experts is essential.

This is especially true of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), many of which don’t have the spending power or resources to achieve net zero on their own. Fortunately, industry associations are stepping in to help.

“At SGTech in Singapore, we noticed that SMEs are lagging behind on their sustainability journeys,” said Boon Pin. “So, we’ve set up a committee that can help SMEs understand what their sustainability requirements are and what it means for their business, help them get access to resources and generate awareness to enable SMES to start on their sustainability journey”

Government support is also essential. In India, 40% of business managers believe that the government should be doing more to address climate change. And 79% support the provision of subsidies and incentives to businesses for developing renewable energy technology.

Other countries too are prioritising public-private partnerships focused on sustainability.

“New Zealand recently announced a joint government-business venture to accelerate emissions reduction in the agricultural sector,” said Burrell. “We wouldn’t have seen that 2-3 years ago. It shows how urgent the climate crisis has become.”

Technology can show us a way out of the climate emergency

84% of business managers in India noted the importance of technology in achieving net zero targets, with almost six in ten saying the role of technology will be very important.

Cloud computing, for example, can significantly reduce energy consumption, waste, and carbon emissions. Salesforce’s report Trail to Net Zero in India, published in collaboration in Access Partnership predicts that by moving to the cloud, companies in India can cut 2.2 million Mt of CO2 emissions in 2022. Further, if cloud operators use 100% renewable power, then the reduction in emissions can be as high as 60 million Mt between 2022 and 2030.

AI can also be harnessed to address environmental challenges.

“India currently uses AI to detect arsenic in drinking water, as well as to forecast floods and monitor air pollution,” said Saleem. “There’s immense potential for some of these initiatives to be scaled across countries.”

Meanwhile, in the aviation industry – a top source of greenhouse gas (GHG) globally – GE is helping build a climate-friendly, low carbon footprint future of air-travel,through cutting-edge innovation.

“Thanks to advancements in aerodynamics, engine architecture and materials technology, GE’s and CFM International aircraft engines consume 40% less fuel, and emit 40% less CO2 than engines from the 70s-80s,” said Barathan. “Now, we’re developing the next generation of engine technology based on open fan, hybrid electric, and other innovations that will improve aircraft fuel efficiency by an additional 20%, at least.”

Technology can also be used to improve emissions measurement. For example, Salesforce Net Zero Cloud can capture all your energy usage and emissions data on one platform – so, you can efficiently quantify and lower your carbon footprint across Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.

“Digital platforms that track emissions are critical tools in climate change efforts,” said Saleem. “The Trail to Net Zero India report recommends that governments and businesses use these shared platforms to improve data accuracy and transparency.”

Strong and sustained actions make all the difference

While we can’t stop global warming overnight, we can start to move the needle. Here are a few steps to take:

Key Takeaways Infographic

For details on this infographic, please click here.

While the climate crisis may be accelerating, there’s a lot we as businesses can do to change the narrative. From re-orienting our values, to reducing the upstream and downstream impacts of our products, to reporting emissions transparently – every little action counts.

Vivek Abraham

Vivek Abraham is the Regional Director, External Strategy - India & South Asia for Salesforce. In his current capacity, Vivek is responsible for strategic initiatives with key stakeholders, including the government and industry, and is part of the India leadership team. He spearheaded Salesforce's COVID relief efforts in India, helping to bring in three plane-loads of COVID concentrators

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