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Fortune Global 500 Net Zero Carbon Emissions Commitments: Hitting a Sustainability Wall?

September 20, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

The number of Fortune Global 500 companies committed to 2050 net-zero goals has grown only 3% in 2023 compared to 2022, according to Climate Impact Partners' fifth-annual study. Moreover, no new companies announced 2030 net-zero targets in the past year, the research found.

With those data points in mind, the report asserts that in an "era of global boiling, Fortune Global 500 corporate commitments are starting to stall."

Emissions Reporting, Chief Sustainability Officer Trends

Still, there are some limited signs of sustainability progress elsewhere in the report. Among the findings to note:

  • More than 75% of the world's largest companies now report emissions, and more than half of those companies are reporting some form of scope 3 emissions.
  • 43% of companies have a Chief Sustainability Officer or equivalent, leading to earlier climate targets for those respective companies.
  • Companies with Chief Sustainability Officers reported small emissions reductions (0.2% compared to the last reporting year).
  • Companies without a CSO experienced 3% emissions growth in the same period.

Meanwhile, sustainability challenges continue to surface in specific vertical markets. For instance, manufacturing companies are struggling to manage sustainability strategies because of supply chain, funding and knowledge limitations, according to survey results from Fictiv and Dimensional Research.

Apple, CEOs and CIO Priorities: Bright Spots for Sustainable Technology Partners?

The various research reports surfaced a few days after Apple reinforced its 2030 climate goals, while also introducing Grid Forecast Software to help consumers leverage renewable energy, and launching carbon neutral Apple Watch models. In some circles, the Apple moves were considered a defining momentum for how companies can brand and promote sustainable business initiatives.

Also of note for technology partners: Environmental sustainability remains a Top 10 business priority for CEOs, according to Gartner. By 2026, 75% of organizations will increase their business engagement with IT vendors that have clear sustainability goals. Those same CIOs will seek to replace vendors that don't have sustainability goals, according to Gartner.

Looking ahead, 38% of organizations plan to invest "a lot more in IT for sustainability in the next year and almost none plan to pull back on their sustainability investments," IBM survey results released on September 20, 2023, indicated.

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