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Majority of organisations working towards net zero

The vast majority of organisations have a strategic goal to move towards net zero emissions, a new report has revealed.

user iconLauren Croft 30 November 2021 Big Law
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According to new research from global law firm Ashurst, almost 70 per cent of senior decision-makers have committed their organisations to reaching a net zero target, as well as aiming to reduce emissions.

The Energy Transition Investment: Latest Trends across the G20 report, released last week, provides the results of an Ashurst survey of 992 senior managers involved in energy investment decision making.

The G20 is an intergovernmental forum that works on addressing major issues related to the global economy, the members of which are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

 
 

Almost 70 per cent of respondents said their organisation had already committed to a net zero target, with a further 28 per cent having one under development. Corporate net zero targets were revealed to be more common among organisations based in Europe and North America trailed by other markets, including Australasia and the UK.

The research tracks survey responses against Ashurst’s 2020 Powering Change: Energy in Transition report and maps changes in attitudes towards renewable power generation and decarbonisation technologies. These changes are also set to happen increasingly fast – only 2 per cent of respondents thought they might move more slowly, and none said they didn’t expect to make a change at all.

Michael Burns, partner and head of energy for EMEA/US at Ashurst, said that compared to last year, investment in clean energy projects is “accelerating”.

The investor base is broad: from integrated energy companies, to energy transition-specific and other private capital funds, as well as direct investment by governments.

“Investment opportunities in the market are equally as diverse, including proprietary decarbonisation technology, manufacturing and supply chain, greenfield and operational generation and supply projects, through to changing the behaviour of end users of energy as each part of the energy value chain seeks to achieve its climate change objectives,” he said.

As the energy transition continues to gather pace, we expect to see investments being made both in projects that have clear government support but also, for those seeking higher returns or prepared to deploy capital earlier, investments in earlier stage project developments, including innovative energy storage, low carbon hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

In the survey, a total of 72 per cent of respondents said their strategies had changed in the past year and they expected to continue adapting in response to the energy transition. Another 19 per cent said they had changed their plans but didn’t expect to change them again.

The top three strategies for organisations to meet net zero were to reduce their own emissions, which was listed by 57 per cent of respondents, acquire carbon offsets (48 per cent) and directly invest in renewable energy development projects (48 per cent). Interestingly, only 37 per cent were planning to reduce emissions throughout their supply chains, and 19 per cent were setting science-based targets.

Additionally, almost two-thirds of organisations plan to fast track their shift from investing in traditional energy sources – such as coal, gas and oil – to renewable energy in the next 12 months, whilst globally, proven technologies remain the largest driver of investment.

“These findings likely reflect faster than expected declines in chemical battery costs, as well as the need for additional firming capacity in markets that increasingly have a high penetration of variable renewable energy sources,” the report stated.

Moreover, solar energy remains the most favoured renewable power generation source, jumping from 52 per cent to 69 per cent in the past year. The number of organisations considering solar in the next five years has almost doubled from 22 per cent to 42 per cent between the two reports.

Paul Curnow, partner and head of energy for APAC at Ashurst, said that the availability of greenfield developments and access to a skilled workforce have become increasingly important factors in the past year as confidence in new technology has increased.

“Confidence in technology is growing and will bolster the willingness of organisations to invest. However, as our research identifies, business strategies will also be influenced by the availability of greenfield developments and access to an appropriately skilled workforce.

“Our research highlights how corporates across many markets are moving ahead of government policy and regulation as institutional investors, asset managers and financial institutions, including central banks, increasingly set the pace and direction of net zero investment,” he said.

“As we move towards a carbon neutral world, it is clear many organisations will need to develop new business models. They will also need clear policy directions from governments to plan for a clean energy future.”