According to new research, 34 per cent of Australian businesses don’t have a climate strategy, even as it’s becoming important for entities of every size to address their emissions.
Deloitte’s report, Clean cloud: meeting the climate challenge in Australia & New Zealand, also found that among the firms that have crafted a climate strategy, 60 per cent have not seen significant reductions in emissions levels.
But according to the consulting firm, significant steps towards sustainability could be taken by Australian businesses of all sizes, by the simple act of harnessing cloud-based technologies.
“Cloud and related technologies can be leveraged across sectors to unlock environmental benefits, far beyond the initial benefit associated with transitioning from on-premises data centres,” the report found.
While shifting data and applications to the cloud from on-premises servers could deliver a reduction in emissions of 4.5 million tonnes directly, Deloitte also identified 12 cloud-based applications that could provide a large dividend.
Many of these technologies can be used by businesses across all sectors – such as installing cloud-enabled AI systems to heat and cool buildings in response to current weather conditions or by supporting the transition to carbon-free energy.
In the real estate industry, which relies heavily on the mobility of agents and has a high footprint for transit emissions, new and yet-to-be-developed tech could help businesses and individuals increase the efficiency of their transport.
Meanwhile in finance and property investing, Deloitte recommended incorporating climate risk into assessing assets with the help of cloud-based platforms.
The report, which was informed by a survey of nearly 500 businesses across Australia and New Zealand operating in a range of industries, identified cloud technology as a major space for development precisely because so few businesses are making the most of it.
Only 7 per cent of Australian businesses have fully transitioned to cloud, while 97 per cent of businesses that do use cloud technology report positive environmental impacts.
John O’Mahony, Deloitte Access Economics partner and the report’s lead author, noted the gap between the current potential of this technology and firms’ current understanding of its use.
“Businesses are increasingly focusing on their environmental impacts and should be considering every possible opportunity to help achieve their emissions reduction objectives and this includes ‘indirect’ opportunities such as cloud technologies for data storage and access.
“Yet we’ve found that these are currently very strongly under-utilised. This suggests that businesses don’t view the cloud as a means to reduce emissions or, at the very least, they don’t understand the opportunity. Only one in five see ‘improving sustainability’ as a key benefit of adopting cloud systems, with decisions to adopt cloud generally undertaken on the basis of a narrower, commercial assessment only,” Mr O’Mahony said.
He added that offices that are prepared to get on the front foot now stand not only to make a significant contribution to the environment, but can expect positive business outcomes.
“Our climate challenges are critical and existential. Equally, there is a $680 billion economic opportunity for Australia from investing in a coordinated climate transition, and those that embrace innovative solutions will be the ones that benefit,” he said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.