Partner Insight: To overcome the challenges of reducing emissions across supply chains, companies should look to eCollaboration for coordination and idea generation, explains Schneider Electric's Richard Bennett
The past few years have seen a tempering of climate optimism around corporate net zero targets. Reducing emissions arising directly from the organisation and from purchased electricity may not be enough to reach net zero. Reducing indirect emissions (Scope 3) are seen to have the greatest impact to achieve net zero, yet many companies do not feel equipped to deliver these reductions.
Taking action on indirect emissions is seen as a major challenge. Indirect emissions are associated with the entire value chain of an organisation and often represent the largest chunk of a company's emissions. In our own case of Schneider Electric, as much as 99 per cent of our carbon footprint derives from Scope 3.
eCollaboration can make the difference in reducing emissions. The universe of suppliers a company deals with will bring emissions, but also new ideas on how to reduce them. To organise a movement and facilitate global knowledge sharing, digital platforms need to be utilised. Another aspect is the economy of scale. Small-and medium companies often don't have their own resources and have limited budgets. Digital solutions might be their way to start reducing their carbon footprint.
However, it's important to mention that in the successful cases we have worked on, the digital ecosystem is always a key part of a wider program - software alone will not solve for the Scope 3 challenge.
How digital eCollaboration enables action towards net zero gains
At COP26, the Energize program was launched. The program is a first-of-its-kind effort of 10 global pharmaceutical companies to leverage the scale of a single industry's global supply chain to drive system-level change. The program will help pharmaceutical and healthcare suppliers to address their own operational greenhouse gas emissions through green power procurement, which in turn will reduce the participating companies' Scope 3 emissions. The Energize program is powered by Schneider's NEO Network™, a global collaboration platform and community designed to accelerate renewable energy decision-making and decarbonisation.
Engaging with our 1,000 largest suppliers
At Schneider Electric we are committed to net zero across our entire value chain by 2050. To tackle our supply chain's carbon footprint, we launched the Zero Carbon Project in 2021. Under this initiative, we partner with our top 1,000 suppliers. Currently, we provide tools and resources to participants to help them set and achieve their own carbon reduction targets.
The magic is in the mix: we have very advanced members of the supplier community like Henkel, that have demonstrated significant emission-reduction progress, and are now sharing best practices with the other Zero Carbon Project participants. The collaboration's digital backbone is a combination of tools, connecting the existing supplier relationship management structure with a platform providing access to content, case studies, training modules, benchmarking & tracking reports and a reporting module.
Mind and machine to democratise clean energy
Electrification with clean energy can fast track decarbonization across many sectors and use cases. However, renewable energy procurement is time-consuming and depending on the purchasing model, might require significant expert evaluation of projects and risks. Market platforms are a great example of digital tools enabling businesses to quickly, easily and cost effectively source clean energy.
At Schneider Electric we facilitate the intelligence of NEO Network™ and Zeigo™ platforms for our clients, which simplify the cleantech buying process by connecting members to trusted experts. The platform has several aspects. It is the ‘democratisation', as they connect an extensive network of renewable energy generators and buyers to find solutions, viable projects, and technologies.
The platforms also combine mind and machine. Zeigo for example has an AI-based, machine learning-based approach, combining AI capabilities with advisory services. This streamlines the energy and environmental commodity procurement process and makes it accessible for a much larger number of market participants.
These examples show that no-one can fight climate change alone. Digital ecosystems can make a big difference and empower stakeholders along value chains and across communities to come together and share data to create more insights, develop new solutions, and help transition to the net zero future.
Richard Bennett is director of commercial innovation in sustainability business at Schneider Electric.
This article is sponsored by Schneider Electric, which is a partner of the Net Zero Festival.
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