5 innovations transforming net zero targets into actions
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Innovation and net zero at Davos
While many companies talk the talk of sustainability and their ambitions for net zero, do they really have any idea of how they’ll get there?
My answer? Innovation, led by purpose-driven ecosystems.
Innovation is core to driving sustainable business transformation—and in many sectors, it is already happening. While the global climate emergency is the most pressing issue, other environmental priorities for leaders and their organizations include waste, food, water, natural resource scarcity, and the loss of biodiversity.
Addressing these complex and very real challenges can seem insurmountable. In my view, that is exactly why innovation sits at the heart of ultimately solving these challenges—but it must be embraced in all aspects of business decision making and strategy.
This topic is particularly top of mind for me this week as I join other TCS delegates at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. This year’s theme is ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World,’ with a core focus on ways organizations can create sustainable futures for all.
The imperative to act is not just a moral one. Creating purpose-led companies to pursue sustainable goals will also limit business and financial risk and allow organizations to grow. Indeed, many companies are responding to this challenge. More than 85% of large corporations have already made net-zero pledges and are working on their execution plans to decarbonize, use more renewable sources of energy, and create greener supply chains.
Even so, we must all do more, and do it faster. Here are five sectors where we at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) see innovation already in action, or, at the very least, its promise to create real change:
Manufacturing: Reimagining materials, products, design
More than two-thirds of our global Manufacturing & Utilities clients have declared their carbon neutrality goals.
For manufacturers, these pledges are particularly complex, since they often come with implications for long and involved supply chains: ethical sourcing, material circularity and lower product life-cycle emissions, to name a few.
To achieve these bold goals, leading companies apply innovative modelling of their operations, using AI and creating digital twins to map and reduce emissions. These technology applications will help companies be sustainable, accountable, and future-ready.
Aviation: Ecosystems are key
On the highways and in the skies, ecosystems lie at the heart of sustainability in the aviation and automotive industries, with all players relying on collaboration and accountability at both industry and organizational levels.
Industry leaders are moving towards the circular economy model, where innovations around product life, fuel and energy sourcing and production, resource management and knowledge sharing are key.
Digital technologies can also play a key role in helping to implement and accelerate these circular economy principles across downstream ecosystem partners.
Industry leaders including P&G, Unilever, 3M, Shell, Dow Chemical, BASF, Lyondellbasel, Toyota, BMW and Rolls Royce are all adopting innovative technologies to incorporate the principle of repair, retrofit, reuse and recycle.
Technology: Green software
For many organizations, the first step is putting a framework in place to measure the carbon footprint of the technologies in use.
Building in ‘green’, or greener software will improve efficiencies across development processes, deployment, usage and maintenance, helping make all aspects of business fit for the future.
Energy: “Prosumer” generation and storage
The utility industry is in the midst of fundamental change. For us, that means ecosystems that are “prosumer-centric,” or focused on both producers and consumers.
Successful industry players will create and grow an ecosystem with the prosumer at the centre.
We see this reshaping taking three phases: the first where utilities encourage and promote the adoption of renewables; the second where prosumers build an ecosystem of distributed energy--for example, solar alongside solar storage--; and the third where prosumers help manage peak load requirements for utilities.
An example of this model in action is a leading utility on the US’ west coast, which partners with prosumers to create a distributed solar-plus-storage ecosystem to manage peak load demands and meet regulatory requirements.
Agriculture: Data and digitalization
Just one look at the agriculture ecosystem shows how integrated it is in every part of life. No single organization can create a sustainable future alone.
We believe that achieving this bold but noble goal requires us to leverage the power of digital technologies and build in sustainability from the start.
And we’ve already seen these ecosystems in action. For example, a large US-based agriculture retailer built a comprehensive carbon program that not only encompassed carbon capture, but also used carbon credits trading to reach its sustainability commitments. By creating a network of growers and suppliers that aligned with its goals, it was able to harness the power of the ecosystem for information gathering and analytics.
These examples show how resilience and growth can be fostered if sustainable practices are embraced across the value chain. True sustainability can only be achieved when people, technology, and innovation converge and pull together.
At TCS, we believe enterprise will be at the heart of building a more sustainable future. We are proud to partner with leading companies in all sectors to leverage the power of digital technologies to forge a path towards a better future for people and the planet, and I’m optimistic that the collaboration and big ideas that generate from Davos each year will bring us closer to this goal