InterviewsSustainability

Technology Alone Cannot Make Net Zero a Reality

Joe Dunleavy, the Head of Innovation at Endava, says the transition to Net Zero is far more challenging than just switching from one energy source to another

How does technology contribute to sustainability?
Although technology alone cannot make Net Zero a reality, advanced technology will continue to play a critical role in enabling a more sustainable future. In fact, the innovations of the fourth Industrial Revolution, such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI), are not only crucial commercial enablers, but they can also speed up efforts to stabilize global temperatures. If utilized correctly, these innovations can also promote climate protection, better air quality, and the preservation of biodiversity, through greater data collection and transparency, collaboration, control, and informed decision-making.

New technologies, such as ‘Digital twins,’ which simulate future product or process performance using real-world data, can play a crucial role in our climate agenda. They are able to simulate generating peaks, predict maintenance requirements, and monitor energy flow in real time, resulting in a decrease in embedded carbon and energy consumption during operations. By generating digital twins of the as-installed and as-planned grids, they can also simulate energy systems and infrastructure for smart districts and utilities – and, if scaled up, entire national networks.

In summary, technology will play a crucial role in enabling individuals, corporations, governments, and nations to optimize operations and increase efficiency, which is crucial to achieving a Net Zero global economy.

What sort of sustainability efforts does your company practice?
We take our environmental responsibilities seriously at Endava, and we believe that everyone must work together to combat climate change. To that end, we recently launched our annual We Care sustainability report, which provides a comprehensive overview of our core priorities and the rigorous approach we’ve taken in bringing our sustainability mission to life.

This year, we undertook a more thorough accounting of our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions and aligned our methodology for accounting and reporting GHG emissions with the 2013 UK Government environmental reporting guidance (Chapter 2) and the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (revised edition).

Furthermore, we enlisted PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), as an independent third party, to provide limited assurance over certain metrics in our 2022 GHG emissions data. Earlier this year, we also signed the commitment letter to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a cornerstone of corporate climate action. In doing so, we have committed to establishing and validating net-zero targets in accordance with the SBTi’s Net-Zero Standard, which will enable us to:

  • Establish short-term, science-based emission reduction goals consistent with limiting warming to 1.5° C
  • Establish science-based long-term goals that will contribute to reducing Endava’s emissions by at least 90 percent by 2050
  • Continue to engage in beyond value chain mitigation throughout the emission reduction process
  • Neutralise residual emissions with permanent carbon removals

Moreover, we already have a range of measures in place to preserve and protect natural resources and promote sustainability within our workplaces including:

  • Environmental sustainability checklists for new and existing office buildings.
  • Energy-efficient, sensor operating lighting.
  • Separate collection of recyclables, including the waste from electric and electronic equipment.
  • Prioritising green-certified (LEED/BREEAM) buildings when selecting the buildings for new Endava offices.
  • Increasing the share of renewable energy used in our operations.

As a technology company, we are able to drive sustainability through digital acceleration and we are proud to help our clients build green solutions that enable them to run their IT operations in a way that ensures maximum energy efficiency and has minimal impact on the environment. To that end, this year has seen more Endavans coming together and setting up a Green Software Community, working towards developing, applying, and incorporating green software principles in how we deliver service to our clients.

Do we need to look at sustainability beyond the use of “green energy”?
The transition to Net Zero is far more challenging than just switching from one energy source to another. Achieving Net Zero demands not only the elimination of greenhouse gas production but also the effective and efficient capture of carbon. This requires a massive societal and industrial transformation. To effectively remove our carbon impact on the world, we need to optimize every aspect of our life, and technology will play a vital role in this.

How can companies reduce their carbon footprint? Are there local or regional initiatives that encourage companies to adopt best practices?
The climate problem affects every living thing on our planet; therefore, it is everyone’s duty to take action to have a more beneficial impact on the world. Numerous programs exist for businesses to reduce their carbon impact. Governments have laid the groundwork for greater carbon-neutral legislation; however, it is now up to businesses and individuals to realize this ambition. There are numerous methods by which companies can change their operations not only to reduce their emissions but also to cut costs and boost productivity.

To combat the issue, organizations must first determine what needs to be fixed. Therefore, they should start by first gauging the carbon footprint of their business and its operations in order to prioritize problem areas. Businesses can then implement initiatives that can help them in achieving their goals. These may include incorporating greener energy into their overall energy mix, collaborating with sustainable suppliers, implementing the three Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle into their corporate culture, and carbon offsetting.

The UAE was the first country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement in 2016. The country then launched the Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative in October 2021. Following this, they also founded the UAE Council for Climate Action, headed by the Minister of Climate Change and Environment and comprising representatives of 23 public and private sector entities, to serve as an umbrella for nationwide climate action.

Moreover, Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) also published its first interactive web-based manual to help hotels and hospitality firms develop a sustainability plan in August. The UAE government has been at the forefront of climate change efforts and implementing initiatives to boost the private sector’s move towards becoming carbon neutral.

What challenges do companies face today in their journey toward net zero and how can technology help solve those issues?
Developing and implementing a sustainable business strategy is not one-size-fits-all. An organization’s sustainability efforts will be influenced by the specific complexities and opportunities facing its supply chain, customers, stakeholders, and industry.

Companies are now under increasing pressure to back net-zero ambitions with a visible and concrete strategy in order to combat climate change. To achieve this, businesses must define quantitative, time-bound science-based objectives, as well as a strategy with distinct milestones and a method for tracking progress. However, to develop accurate reporting, organizations must also account for scope 3 emissions, which are indirect emissions generated during the lifespan of a product or service or as a result of business activity. This may be one of the most complex challenges that companies are facing today.

Doing this right also means accounting for, and addressing, scope 3 emissions, the indirect emissions generated throughout a product’s life cycle or by company activities. This may be one of the most complex challenges companies are facing this year.

Technologies that provide real-time data to optimize and better automate industrial processes and energy management will play a crucial role in this context. However, a successful corporate sustainability strategy must be established and implemented from start to finish if it is to yield tangible results across the business and its ecosystem. With unified smart analytics that span complete data stacks, teams can leverage AI across all lifecycle stages of their activities. This gives decision-makers the capacity that they would not otherwise have – knowledge, data-led intelligence, and the ability to spot opportunities to drive down carbon use and boost sustainability.

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