Almost half of UK and Irish industrial businesses want to be Net Zero by 2027

According to new research from energy management company, Schneider Electric, 97% of UK and Irish industrial organisations have named reducing their carbon footprint as a priority, with 3 in 10 businesses (27%) claiming it to be the top priority this year.

This comes as climate change and sustainability becomes a key focus, as almost half (48%) are aiming to have a carbon neutral business in the next 3 to 5 years.

While industry leaders are optimistic about reaching targets, it hasn’t been without challenges: more than a third found that the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases (GHG) in their business is from their own manufacturing (39%), fuel combustion (32%) and fleet vehicles (23%). When identifying the causes, 4 in 10 industrial organisations (39%) found the pandemic disrupted plans to become more sustainable. Additional barriers included additional costs (41%), failure to find a trusted partner for sustainability (30%) and lack of knowledge and expertise (29%). The research also found that 9 in 10 (88%) believe digitisation can increase efficiency to reduce energy usage and 72% UK and Irish industries believe quicker action needs to be taken to reduce carbon footprint.

Despite the barriers, industry leaders have been eager to ensure they are turning climate ambitions into action. 95% have an accurate view of their energy infrastructure and consumption, while a further 61% constantly track their energy consumption through a monitoring system and 19% have mapped their energy infrastructure within the last 12 months.

Bridging the gap to carbon neutral

While optimistic, industrial organisations are aware that there is a long road ahead to meeting climate targets. Even though 61% believe they are on track to meet carbon reduction targets, a huge 72% said they need to act more quickly to reduce their footprint. It’s clear that industry leaders will be focusing on sustainability and 72% industry business leaders are confident they are investing enough to ensure they reach carbon reduction goals. With the groundwork in place, it’s time for industries to invest in the technology and tools to make net-zero a reality.

Technology will be a key enabler for a sustainable business, and 9 in 10 (88%) agree digitising the business can increase efficiency to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions that they produce. Evidently, businesses believe that there is a link between technology and sustainability – it’s no wonder that they are focused on delivery quality service in technologies such as robotics, automation, and digitisation. After all, it’s these innovations that can shape the sustainability future.

Technology

 

Market leading innovation Advanced and established success Average for the industry Not a consideration
Robotics 24% 34% 20% 8%
Automation 19% 35% 26% 8%
Digitisation 23% 27% 31% 8%
IT infrastructure 21% 35% 30% 3%
Analytics 26% 25% 28% 10%

Figure 1: UK & Ireland industrial organisations respondents – Using this scale, how advanced is your organisation in delivering operational efficiency improvements in the following areas?

Mark Yeeles, VP Industrial Automation at Schneider Electric UK and Ireland said: “The last year has been a catalyst of change for Industry. Sustainability has now penetrated every industry, and every c-suite in every business. Our research has demonstrated how businesses are turning their attention to reducing emissions, with investment in the right technologies as the means to meet the climate goals. The rapid adoption of digital technologies will enable industries to successfully improve business operations, boost productivity and spearhead a green recovery.

Methodology

This research was conducted by 3Gem in September 2021 and sponsored by Schneider Electric. It surveyed 850 key business decision-makers from across the UK and Ireland, encompassing both business and consumer attitudes towards the race to net-zero sustainability targets.

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