59% of UK businesses to miss net zero target, warns Microsoft

Only 41 per cent of UK organisations are on track to meet the government’s target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to research by Dr Chris Brauer from Goldsmiths, University of London, in partnership with Microsoft.

Nearly three quarters – 74 per cent – of those surveyed said they were “one foot in and one foot out” on sustainability.

The research is based on 1,707 UK senior decision makers from a number of industries and 2,153 Brits in full time employment. Of those surveyed 151 were retail leaders and 182 were full time retail employees.

According to the survey, the majority – 70 per cent - of retail employees feel that environmental sustainability should be a top priority for businesses over the next five years, yet only 21 per cent report that their employer implements their current sustainability plan efficiently.

Only 12 per cent of retail employees believe their work premises are as environmentally friendly as their own home - below the national average of 17 per cent .

The report revealed that a factor setting those doing well in terms of sustainability targets apart is their use of technology.

Three quarters of this group are investing in R&D for new technologies - 76 per cent - including tech to measure carbon emissions – 76 per cent - and many are also building the in-house skills needed to make the most of these technologies.

The report also explores the role of technology in the journey to net zero. Examples in retail include business productivity software, collaboration technologies, cloud, analytics and big data, and carbon emissions measurement technologies.

According to Microsoft UK retail leaders are showing progress in monitoring the environmental sustainability of their supply chains, with 64 per cent doing this. A further 56 per cent of retail respondents said they are using new technology within the supply chain itself to reduce its negative environmental impact.

“More so than ever, today’s consumers want to be safe in the knowledge that their purchases aren’t harming the planet,” said Louise Watkins, head of retail, CPG, travel and transport at Microsoft UK. “The retail sector has a fantastic opportunity to make a real global difference on climate change and it’s encouraging to see that UK retail leaders and employees are aligned on the need to take this challenge seriously. However actions must speak louder than words, as with every sector, it is time to start fast, think big and work together to truly accelerate progress towards net zero.”

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