New European report reveals state of play in business’ decarbonization efforts to reach net zero by 2050

Atos has announced results from a new European report on decarbonization, published by independent research company Coleman Parkes Research. The study, prepared by Atos and Amazon Web Services (AWS), reveals business leaders’ attitudes and actions towards decarbonization, and how they are managing their efforts to reach net zero by 2050 – the target called for in the Paris Agreement in order to keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C[1].

Key findings show that rising costs and economic uncertainty are among the key obstacles to businesses’ decarbonization progress and that despite a confidence in the success of decarbonization efforts, there is a clear gap between target setting, accurate internal measurement, and external targets.

Coleman Parkes Research surveyed 4,000 business leaders across three sectors, energy and utilities, financial services, and manufacturing, in four major European countries, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Target Setting v. Performance Measurement Gap

Almost all organizations surveyed (96%) have set emissions reduction targets, however only half of businesses are measuring their emissions (scopes 1 & 2). Which poses the question as to how the remaining half of businesses can effectively understand, track and therefore manage and progress against targets if they are not measuring emissions.

Overcoming Fragmented Data

One of the key obstacles to carbon reduction plans and efforts mentioned by half of business leaders was fragmented and out-of-date internal data sets and insights. Robust data can be harnessed to provide deeper insights into a business’ environmental impact and to drive cost reduction, streamline operations and manage decarbonization. In this study over half of businesses cite ‘accurate and reliable data’ as one of the top 3 elements that they would find most helpful in the implementation of their carbon reduction plans.

The Human Factor

Barriers to decarbonization are not only technology-related. Also mentioned by almost half of businesses is the difficulty faced in finding the right professionals with the appropriate skill set, with 55% saying that support from an external specialist consulting would be among the top 3 elements helpful to make better progress on carbon reduction. Another obstacle mentioned is a lack of commitment from the leadership team (39%). This lack of alignment is evident, with less than half of businesses involving the C-level management teams, including CIOs, in the creation of decarbonization plans.

Lack of Technology Solutions

Almost a third of businesses said their technology solutions could be improved and 1 in 5 said they lack the appropriate technology to see through their plans. 75% of business leaders admitted that their environmental impact reporting would be improved by an emissions measurement tool.

Technology plays a big role in decarbonization. The study shows that digitalizing and automating sustainability initiatives has a clear positive effect on decarbonization success – for those companies that have digitalised most or all of their sustainability initiatives, 58% say they feel successful in decarbonisation. Cloud-enabled technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT and data analytics can be used to develop solutions for more efficient, decarbonized operations such as using predictive analysis to prevent machine malfunction, thereby increasing uptime, productivity and reducing energy costs and consumption.

In terms of migrating to the cloud, the benefits are clear. Close to half of the businesses who migrated their legacy data centres to the cloud are seeing measurable carbon reduction as a result. Encouraged by this success, the same number are moving more IT services to the cloud; and almost half are seeing results. In fact, seven in ten business leaders believe that cloud technology would accelerate their companies’ journey to net zero by two years or more.

Diane Galbe, Senior Executive Vice President, in charge of Sustainability & Net Zero Transformation Practice, Atos saidThe research clearly shows that decarbonization is now a priority for all businesses, and with the amount of data proliferating, not only within an organization but also between them, effective data management and cloud integration are becoming increasingly important. The power of digital in decarbonization cannot be underestimated. As the survey shows there is a demand for more digitalization and measurement to support decarbonization objectives.”

Commenting on this report, Christopher Wellise, Director of Sustainability at AWS, said, “What is so interesting about this research is that business leaders who have already engaged cloud services think they are more successful in delivering carbon reductions. The data provided in the report backs up this view, as it shows that cloud offers nearly any company or public body a less carbon intensive way of managing their IT. The other fascinating insight here is that 7 in 10 business leaders see the cloud as accelerating their journey to net zero emissions by two years or more.”

The combined capabilities of AWS and Atos offer exceptional knowledge and technical capability, as well as strong experience, to help customers achieve net-zero transformation and modernization.

To read the full survey report, go to

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