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7 Data points about acting on Net Zero

26 September 2022

The Capgemini Research Institute brings a continuous flow of high-quality reports around key topics in the world of technology-driven business change.

By Zhiwei Jiang, CEO, Insights & Data, and Ron Tolido, CTO, Insights & Data, Capgemini

Our definite favorite, currently? That’s got to be Data for Net Zero -Why Data is key to bridging the gap between net zero ambition and action. Fine, we might be slightly biased, as we were both actively involved in shaping it. But this very recently published report hits all the right notes.

It uncovers the essential role of data in converting net zero ambitions into action. To begin with, data is essential to ensure that organizations are aligned with rapidly evolving regulations around climate disclosure. But more importantly, data provides the means to accelerate the journey to net zero, creating sparks of real action on emissions reduction throughout the organization. No data, no net zero, that’s what it comes down to. Cynthia Cummis, director of Private Sector Climate Mitigation for the World Resources Institute, puts it quite eloquently: “you don’t even know if you’re on a path to net zero without better data.”

We second that wholeheartedly. We know you are all busy, so it may take a few days to find time to digest the full report. Just to get you started – and to whet your appetite – we have condensed the findings of the report in 7 key data points:

0 is obviously the number it all starts with. To avoid the worst impact of climate change, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be halved by 2030 and lowered to net zero by 2050. The urgency of the situation has prompted a rapidly increasing number of organizations to pledge to net zero. Zero is positive. Zero is everything. It is good to realize though that most pledges have just been made in the past two years. Where ambitions have been solidly stated, putting the rubber on the road – becoming truly actionable and effective – is a next step that quite a few organizations yet need to make.

45 is the percentage of organizations that currently use emissions data only for mandatory reporting. And frankly, while the other 55% claim to embed data in their net zero-related decision-making, the research found they typically use emissions data to measure sustainability performance at best. Only a few already use it to actively improve key affected processes. Let alone that they unleash the awesome power of machine learning, AI, and scenario analysis to predict emission reduction events and developments or prescribe (manual or automated) actions to achieve the desired objectives.

3 is the scope number that is often overlooked. Remember scopes? Scope 1 emissions result from the direct activities of an organization, scope 2 pertains to indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, scope 3 covers emissions from other indirect sources, throughout an organization’s value chain. Turns out that this last scope – in contrast to scope 1 and 2 – is largely unaddressed. Not good, as scope 3 emissions account for a significant part of an organization’s carbon footprint. An understanding of emission hotspots across the entire value chain is thus key to driving action on emissions reduction.

32 is the percentage of organizations that are already involved in data ecosystems initiatives to share emissions data. You see, the collaboration will be critical to accessing reliable data – especially pertaining to scope 3 – that lies outside the boundaries of an organization. Business ecosystems could jointly develop common methodologies for emissions measurement, helping all involved players to measure and share emissions, e.g., by providing them with carbon accounting tools, and upskilling them through scaled initiatives. Inspired? Here’s everything you need to become a true data sharing master.

13 is the very modest percentage of organizations that already have established strong leadership support, backed by a clear governance structure and a data strategy. All of this is needed to develop the data management capabilities for enabling and accelerating their transition towards net zero. As with all data-powered initiatives, it is critical to first of all have top management support. But a solid mechanism should also be in place to monitor and drive progress. Also, a bold data strategy, architecture and roadmap are pivotal to successful change. Only 13% there, currently? We’ll have to do much better than that.

1 stands for our One More Thing. As organizations rely on data to enable and accelerate their journey to net zero, they realize they need to become full data-powered organizations. They must up their game in data management foundations (such as in renewing technology, building platforms, creating architecture) as well as in data management behaviors (such as boosting skills, empowering business users, and embedding data in all key business operations). This provides so many additional benefits, on top of moving towards the net zero targets. Becoming a data master along the way: this truly is a journey with benefits.

See the definition on Net zero here


Zhiwei Jiang