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Sustainability is a business imperative - can technology save us?

By Shannon Williams
Wed 29 Dec 2021

Sustainability has become even more important over the last few years, with many growing organisations having set their own targets to reduce carbon emissions because it is the ethical thing to do. 

SAP has a Chasing Zero strategy to create a sustainable future through zero emissions, zero waste, and zero inequality. SAP is set to achieve carbon neutrality by 2023, two years ahead of its original schedule.

Decision makers from 197 countries are negotiating a deal at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom. So far, the US and the EU have announced a global partnership to reduce methane gas emissions by 2030. There are more than 40 nations that are committed to moving away from coal. Sadly, the world's biggest users, like China and the US, haven't signed up for this.

"We can't rely on Governments to do this for us," says Tom Raftery, VP at SAP, futurist, and host of Climate 21 podcast.

"We are all invested in the future of our planet, and it is imperative to start taking positive steps to make the world cleaner and greener. To bend the curve on global warming, companies, and customers must take an active part," he says.

Technology can save us

"The climate issues were facing can seem daunting, but I firmly believe that technology can save us," says Raftery.

"Organisations are stepping up to the challenge. It's not just the right thing to do, it is a business imperative. Customers are demanding it. They want to see carbon reduction plans. Employees are more likely to join and stay with a company if they know its genuinely helping the planet and making a positive difference."

The first thing organisations need to do is get clarity by measuring and reporting on emissions so they know what action they need to take. Carbon reporting software enables companies to calculate carbon footprints for their products entire lifecycle and across the value chain.

Secondly, they need to get real-time visibility of their supply chains. Energy consumption is by far the biggest source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and transportation contributes to a large portion of that. Thirdly, its a good idea to consider aligning KPIs to excess carbon reduction and consider introducing an internal tax on carbon.

"The good news is that the carbon intensity of electricity is decreasing worldwide basis on a gCO2/kWh basis," says Raftery. 

"Globally, electric grids are starting to embrace renewable energies, and transportation is using electricity instead of fossil fuels. This is driven by consumers becoming more environmentally conscious; regulations at regional, national, and local levels and pure economics as an electric vehicle is vastly more cost-effective than a fossil fuel vehicle."

United VARs has an important part to play

"Economies around the world are powered by mid-market businesses. They are integral to realising carbon reduction goals globally," Raftery says. 

"At United VARs, we have 50+ members in 100 countries implementing global SAP rollouts for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) across a wide range of industries.

"Implementing SAP solutions can help mid-market companies to improve efficiency, transparency, and accountability across supply chains and drive innovation in processes and business models to make companies run better and more sustainably," he says.

"The members of the United VARs global alliance will have an increasingly important part to play in the coming years to help organisations globally to reduce their carbon footprints and manage their resources more efficiently."

United VARs is a global alliance of SAP solution providers mainly for the midmarket. With more than 70 members in 100 countries, the alliance serves all types of SAP rollouts and integrations across the world.

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