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Has COVID Disrupted the Drive Towards Net Zero?

Written by Energy Action

Despite the unique challenges that businesses and the economy face amid the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change remains high on the agenda for Australian executives. In a survey of Energy Action’s business customers conducted before COVID-19 took hold, 80% of decision-makers indicated businesses need to take action regarding climate change.

This sentiment was echoed in the Deloitte 2020 Industry 4.0 Readiness Report in late 2019, which revealed 83% of business leaders considered the climate was their generation’s responsibility to solve. That was the highest proportion of any country globally.

While this illustrates an overwhelming willingness to tackle climate change, Energy Action found that only 24% of businesses said they were actually targeting net zero emissions as part of their corporate strategy. And while sustaining through the current health crisis is the top priority, acting to address climate change remains of paramount importance.

Coupling economic recovery and emissions reduction

In late May, the Morrison Government reaffirmed its emission reduction target of 26% to 28% of 2005 levels by 2030. This led to renewed calls from peak bodies representing the business community for Australia to take a more proactive stance on achieving net zero emissions.

These concerns were voiced by the Australian Climate Roundtable (ACR) whose high-profile members include the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia, The Property Council and the National Farmers Federation among others.

The ACR asked the Government to balance the economic recovery following the outbreak of COVID-19 with longer-term strategies to reduce emissions. Saying in a statement that “Beyond the pandemic, Australian prosperity also depends on dealing with other long-term challenges – including the transition to net zero emissions.”

“Our organisations encourage governments to bolster their jobs and recovery strategies with measures to reduce emissions and accelerate successful energy transitions across all Australia’s regions and economic sectors.”

Taking action within your organisation

So, we have established the need for bold leadership on climate change, and that’s something that can be implemented within individual businesses. We have already seen some of Australia’s largest companies chart a course to net zero.

For those organisations seeking to reduce emissions and track towards net zero, there are a number of considerations. First, the steps to attain net zero emissions involve measuring your carbon impact, increasing energy efficiency, harnessing on-site renewable energy and electric vehicles, procurement of offsite renewable energy, and finally, participating in carbon offset programs.

As we enter a period of recovery and managing the immediate threat of COVID-19, it gives way to a renewed focus on the future, issues related to climate change need to come back to the fore. Tackling the impact of climate change requires a coordinated response across the economy, but businesses leaders can also take action to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s worth remembering, too, that reducing carbon emissions and more efficient energy usage can also lower your energy bill. This is another example of where businesses can both lower their costs amid economic uncertainty while driving towards net zero. A win-win scenario that’s difficult to ignore.