Business net zero plans blown off track by the energy crisis

2 mins read

85% of Irish business leaders say the energy crisis will impact their organisation’s ability to meet its emissions reduction plans, according to research published today by Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation.

Of that figure, half of organisations say they are delaying planned investment in sustainability and net zero plans (50%). Nearly one third of the same organisations (32%) say they now have more immediate business challenges to tackle. A quarter of these organisations claim that taking practical action to meet targets is difficult (25%)

Given the direct link between lower energy use and decreased emissions, organisations that maintain efforts to meet their emissions targets will also reduce energy use as a result. This in turn will lower their overall energy costs and provide a useful boost to the bottom line in a challenging economic climate.

Crucially, the survey of 300 large organisations reveals that business leaders still recognise the importance of working to emissions reduction targets, as 41% believe that climate change and net zero ambitions will become more of a priority over the next three years. Only a small minority (13%) believe that national net zero commitments will be diluted in that time.

“Business leaders tell us that the energy crisis should be seen alongside the many other challenges they have faced over the last twelve months, including economic pressures, cyber security and skills shortages. Yet our research suggests that some of Ireland’s largest organisations are ‘kicking the carbon emissions can down the road’, as a result of the energy crisis”, said Chris Collins, Country President Ireland, Schneider Electric.

“As fears grow about progress against global commitments made under the Paris Agreement, and the UK’s Climate Change Committee warns of a lack of progress on emissions cuts, Ireland needs businesses and organisations in the public sector to play their part and stick to their net zero and emissions reduction targets”, Chris Collins added.

The survey also reveals that just 23% of those surveyed believe that energy prices will fall over the next three years, while over two thirds (69%) think their organisation will still be addressing the energy crisis in 12 months’ time.

Presenting the survey findings, Chris Collins urged business leaders to re-engage with their emissions reduction ambitions: “It’s not all doom and gloom: as our research shows, business leaders still believe in their climate change ambitions – they simply need to push the subject back up the corporate agenda. Our research shows that Irish businesses were more likely to use technology to gain insights into their energy use and renegotiate energy tariffs than their counterparts in the UK – a strong indicator that business leaders in Ireland are proactive and pragmatic in the face of challenges.

“The technology required to help businesses decarbonise is already available – and the return on investment for these solutions has never been more attractive, with payback periods measured in months rather than years. Organisations still have time to meet their net zero commitments by understanding and addressing energy use, investing in renewable energy and energy saving technology, and embedding sustainability and carbon reduction targets in their business plans,” he added.

“What’s more, those that invest in green skills and green jobs will reap the rewards of a diverse workforce for decades to come. At Schneider, we’ve seen this for ourselves through our apprenticeship and graduate programmes.”