Environment before money: business survey

Survey findings have revealed that in terms of current business priorities, two-thirds of Australian businesses rate reducing carbon emissions as important as, or more important than, the global financial crisis.
The survey of 100 manufacturing, resource and logistics businesses in Australia was conducted by Infor. The survey revealed that a third (33%) of respondents see reducing carbon emissions as a greater priority. Of those, 72% expect a reduction in carbon emissions to deliver a competitive advantage with 28% looking for reduced costs.
The research also indicated that Australian businesses are ready to be accountable for the environment, with almost half (46%) of those polled claiming it’s their responsibility as an Australian business to reduce carbon emissions. Only 15% bemoaned cutting emissions as an additional expense.
One respondent from a large Australian manufacturer claimed that “the reduction of carbon emissions is a factor that all businesses, both within Australia and globally, should be making all possible efforts to affect.”
Another commented that “I honestly believe that there are operational benefits in ‘doing the right thing’ in that it will be the unseen dollar benefit that you will be saving on.”
James Brackenrig, MD Infor ANZ, said: “We speak to many customers who acknowledge that going green shouldn’t cost money, and in fact can save money. However, we were surprised just how many businesses are still prioritising emissions reduction in what is a very difficult time for many. It shows just how important an issue the environment is and it’s encouraging to see Australian businesses taking responsibility for the reduction of emissions.”
The national environment manager at Atlas Copco, a major construction and mining equipment company with offices spread across Australia, demonstrated his company’s approach, explaining: “We have signed up with the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) in NSW as part of the business’s objectives to reduce consumption of electricity, fuel, and waste to landfill. Programs and actions are already in place to achieve sustainable reduction across all operating branches in Australia to achieve a 3% reduction each year relative to work hours or kilometres.”
Support for reduction targets
The survey also revealed support for aggressive federal government reduction targets. The latest emissions trading scheme tabled in parliament in May plans to slash greenhouse gas emissions by between 5 and 25% over 2000 levels by 2020. The government has also committed to a 25% reduction if there is a global agreement in Copenhagen.
One-fifth of survey respondents would welcome a 25% target, while 73% has called for a target of 10% or more.
Confusion over trading scheme impact
Despite support for emissions reduction targets, 44% of respondents claimed they still don’t know the impact that carbon trading will have on their business. The survey also revealed confusion about reporting guidelines, with 60% admitting they have no idea whether their business will be required to report their emissions under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007.
Brackenrig continued: “Clearly, there is still a lot of confusion around what businesses need to be reporting and whether they even need to. This is perhaps unsurprising but does highlight the need for more explanation and education around the impact of carbon trading and emissions reporting on business.”
Simplistic emissions data collection
Spreadsheets remain the most popular way to collect carbon emissions data, with only 6.5% of businesses using dedicated software applications and a worrying 13% storing data in their heads.
About the survey
The survey was conducted online and surveyed respondents from the manufacturing, retail, mining, distribution and third-party logistics industries. Business sizes ranged from less than 50 to more than 200 employees, with the majority (over 65%) employing more than 200 staff. All respondents are vetted and genuine, providing a representative sample of Australian businesses across these verticals.

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