Pankaj Sharma, Executive Vice President, Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric, explains how his organisation is leading from the front on the journey to a net-zero future
As a company, Schneider Electric has focused on sustainability for more than 15 years. In the past, we used to have a regular reporting called the society and planet barometer. That has been a part of our culture, and we have been doing this for over a decade and a half. This has become more profound and visible in the last couple of years and is almost a mandate when you think about various businesses. If you do not have a sustainability focus in your business, you cannot exist anymore. I cannot predict what will happen over the next eight years as we approach many carbon reduction deadlines, but I am confident we will stay focused on sustainability.
On the long journey to a sustainable future, we are already winning in terms of appreciating the challenge. What is heartening is that in the last two years, organisations have started to set specific goals on sustainability that are directly related to scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. When you bring it closer to the digital and the data centre industry, we are at a stage where while we have the targets, we are starting to do something about it. That brings it closer to what Schneider does, as we have had these targets for some time now, which is one of the reasons we are rated as one of the most sustainable companies by Corporate Knights over the past couple of years. If we all stay on this journey, we will win.
When I look at the digital data centre industry, I see our customers at different levels. There are different maturity levels; some are at a very advanced level of maturity, and some are at very early stages. But, if they are on the journey, setting goals, and doing something about it, that is the whole point of winning.
Focusing on environmental sustainability is crucial in today’s rapidly changing world. Many companies have taken positive steps towards reducing their carbon footprint and minimising their impact on the planet. However, simply purchasing carbon credits or investing in others doing so is not enough to solve the climate crisis. As we look at the progress organisations have made in sustainability, we must consider the intent of their actions. While the goal of reducing carbon emissions is commendable, the real challenge lies in executing those goals effectively.
Moving forward, companies must focus not only on reducing their carbon footprint but also on the larger picture of sustainable operations, from their factories and offices to how their people operate. This requires a clear understanding of a company’s impact on the environment and a willingness to invest time and resources into reducing that impact.
It is important to note that carbon credits play a role in mitigating climate change’s effects. However, they are not a silver bullet solution. A decade from now, we must work to ensure that companies are not solely relying on carbon credits to address the challenges of climate change. Instead, they must actively reduce their own environmental impact through comprehensive, data-driven solutions.
Sustainability has become a top priority for businesses, yet the journey towards it is still in its early stages. However, the challenge of green revenue remains crucial in this journey. The cost of more sustainable materials and processes is higher than traditional methods, and customers may not be willing to pay extra. This is where the contradiction arises, as companies must find a way to balance their sustainability goals with the realities of making a profit.
The sustainability movement has reached a critical juncture in its journey. With businesses worldwide grappling with the challenge of creating a sustainable future, it is no surprise that the debate surrounding the subject has become increasingly fraught. On the one hand, there is a growing recognition that sustainability is a driving force for business, with companies big and small seeking ways to align their operations with their environmental goals. But on the other hand, there is still a need to make a solid business case for sustainable initiatives, with many companies facing the daunting task of balancing their sustainability targets with the need to profit.
While there may be some temporary setbacks caused by geopolitical issues, the hope is that these will not distract from the broader mission of creating a more sustainable future for the planet. Overall, there is a growing sense that we are making progress, not just in the business world but across society as a whole, towards a more sustainable future, which gives us reason to be hopeful for the future of our planet.