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March 24, 2022

Here’s how to turn climate promises into accountability and action

Here are some of the most impactful actions and investments businesses can make to reduce their environmental impact.

It’s long been assumed corporate climate response would take a backseat during times of global recession or tragic loss of life, as we are seeing today. But the pattern is clear — there’s no separating the climate crisis from the human reality in which we all live.

Even through these extraordinary times, companies can continue the quest to deliver alternative market-based solutions and advance climate and equity.

As net zero commitments (which promise to eliminate or offset all greenhouse gas emissions across operations and supply chains) took hold in the corporate world, companies with large carbon footprints — such as airlines and manufacturers — led the way or at least caught the first limelight. Now, with those industries firmly aware of the need for corporate climate action, it’s time for companies with smaller carbon footprints to lead. 

An array of actions companies can take

Every company should determine which levers will have the greatest impact within the construct of its current ecosystem. At Cognizant, we assessed several investments and opportunities to help us reach our own net zero goals. The areas companies should consider include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Renewable energy: Assess where your energy consumption is highest, and target areas for investment in renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy. At Cognizant, we continue to build our reliance on renewable energy, particularly in India where we have a large footprint.

  • Green buildings: In buildings you lease or own, conduct an energy assessment to understand where it would make sense to implement more sustainable heating and cooling systems, as well as eco-friendly lighting options. In our recent research, 63% of respondents said they’re investing in eco-friendly lighting. Businesses can also consider the use of AI and analytics platforms to streamline and increase the value of their energy audits.

  • Green IT: Consider leveraging low-power electronics and migrating your data to the cloud. While estimates vary, research indicates nearly 80% energy savings from running business applications in the cloud vs. in on-premises infrastructure.  

  • Suppliers: Work with your suppliers, encouraging them to establish their own measurable sustainability goals. Conduct business with likeminded companies that share your values.

  • Travel reduction: If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that remote work enabled by the right technology is often possible, and sometimes more productive and impactful.

  • Offsets: Offsets can reduce carbon emissions in one place to compensate for the release of emissions in another. When done through legitimate, verifiable and permanent projects, companies can audit and verify carbon offsets to make sure they result in real global reductions where local ones are not commercially possible. In our own net zero goals, we are looking to offset no more than 10% of our carbon footprint by 2040.

  • Coalitions. Addressing the most critical climate challenges will require collaboration and join action among organizations. We’ve joined forces with The Climate Pledge, co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism, whose goal is to reach net-zero carbon by 2040 and meet The Paris Agreement 10 years early. Signatories to the pledge share access to technologies, best practices and innovations in supply chain enhancements.

Leveraging tech to solve the world’s greatest problem

Technological advancements will play an integral role in making businesses more sustainable. We’re seeing businesses apply technologies to reduce a range of environmental impacts within their daily operations.

For example, we worked with a global shipping company to establish a data platform that analyzes more than 1,000 sensor inputs from 75+ vessels in real-time. Using these insights, the business reduced fuel consumption by continuously optimizing vessel speed and position. The company’s data strategy and modern cloud-based data platform support intelligent, automated and data-driven processes. Steered by advanced analytics and machine-learning models, these processes enable the shipper to compile comprehensive decarbonization reports.

We’re also enabling a global pharmaceutical organization to reduce energy and water consumption through data and analytics tools that allow the company to clearly view the status of water, steam and electricity use. These insights allow them to clearly see energy-savings opportunities.

The opportunities to improve sustainability extend across industries and the world: We’re helping a utility company generate renewable energy through smart meters, a farming company improve crop yield through data management, a US healthcare payer enroll members via a process that eliminates paper. These are just some of the ways businesses can leverage technology to create a more efficient and carbon-friendly world.

Individual efforts matter

Lastly, but certainly not least, we cannot ignore the collective power within large companies. Cognizant is 330,000+ people strong across the globe — that’s more people than some cities. Companies have the obligation to seize the opportunity to create a community of knowledgeable citizens. Some things to consider include:

  • Eco-trainings that educate employees on simple steps that can make big differences

  • Friendly competitions and challenges within the company to encourage eco-friendly behaviors

  • Outreach and volunteer efforts that help bring your expertise to underserved areas

Not only will these collective efforts impact our environment, but they will also enhance company culture. These simple steps will empower employees with the tools and know-how to help the companies they work for generate meaningful corporate change.

Cognizant Insights Team

We’re here to offer you practical and unique solutions to today’s most pressing technology challenges. Across industries and markets, get inspired today for success tomorrow.

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