Aussie businesses explore virtual solutions to achieve sustainability and profit – says Schneider Electric

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Australian companies are increasingly looking to the use of digital and electrified technologies, from artificial intelligence to electric vehicles, to promote sustainability and combat the climate crisis, according to Schneider Electric’s newly released Sustainability Index 2023 report.

The report revealed that a substantial 78 per cent of decision-makers in corporate Australia firmly believe that digital solutions are pivotal in achieving their sustainability objectives.

Despite some promising strides, Australia’s efforts to reduce emissions still fall significantly short of the targets set to combat climate change. 

According to the November report from the Australian Office of Financial Management, emissions have only declined by 21 per cent since 2005, well below the required 43 per cent reduction by 2030.

Carlos Urbano, vice president of industry for Pacific Zone at Schneider Electric, emphasised the need for rapid and impactful solutions to support businesses in their energy transition. 

“Technologies ranging from digital twins to monitoring, visualisation, and automation provide the quickest wins to significantly understand and reduce emissions to help meet 2030 targets,” noted Urbano. 

The report, based on a quantitative survey of more than 500 corporate decision-makers in Australia, found that  82 per cent of businesses now believe that the advantages of adopting sustainable technology outweigh the associated costs. 

This represents a notable increase from 75 per cent in 2022, underscoring the growing recognition that sustainability initiatives not only safeguard the planet but also contribute to long-term business success.

To propel sustainability initiatives forward, 55 per cent of businesses are increasing their investments in digital transformation compared to three years ago. 

Additionally, 41 per cent are prioritising automation, and 22 per cent are embracing EVs. 

Urbano underscored the importance of moving beyond outdated methods for understanding energy usage, such as relying on bills and spreadsheets, and adopting sophisticated tools and technologies. 

“With less than seven years remaining to make significant progress, it is crucial for businesses to embrace modern approaches to gain accurate insights into energy usage and carbon emissions,” he stated.

Among the industries, professional services emerged as a frontrunner in embracing digital transformation, with an impressive 89 per cent reporting that digital plays a key role in achieving their sustainability goals. 

Manufacturing followed closely at 87 per cent, while financial services registered at 85 per cent. Even in food and beverage, where digital adoption was relatively lower, over half recognised the benefits of digital technologies.

Urbano concluded, “Across industries, businesses have a pivotal role to play in addressing the climate crisis. We must act urgently and work together, adopting digital solutions, embracing electrified technologies, and transforming our operations to ensure a sustainable future.”