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Net-zero emissions strategy for the technology sector

by maria

By: Ingrid Estrada, Chief Administrative Officer, Keysight Technologies

The technology sector plays a vital role in developing long-term solutions for decreasing climate-changing emissions. When companies take voluntary responsible action operationally as well as technologically, we can set industry standards for best practices and quality service provision that are realistic and aligned with the expectations of our customers, investors, employees, and the needs of the natural environment.

What des “net-zero emissions” mean?

Climate change is a complex economic, social, and environmental crisis. Already, we are experiencing unprecedented extreme weather events across the globe — from wildfires to flooding and hurricanes — that affect the availability of resources and the security of communities. The consequences of climate change will continue to increase in frequency and severity until global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are significantly reduced.

Reaching net-zero emissions means that all GHG emissions generated by company operations are reduced to near zero, and any residual emissions are neutralised by removing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere. The best processes to accomplish this goal are through energy efficiency and conservation and a transition to renewable energy sources.

At Keysight, for example we have used the benchmarks set by the Paris Agreement framework to guide a change in operations that contributes to the target of limiting the increase of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We have chosen an ambitious emissions reduction goal not just because it makes business-sense, but because it is the right thing to do. Our net-zero strategy was developed with the environment, our customers, employees, and investors in mind to meet and exceed their expectations through conscientious business operations.

Industry collaboration for emissions reduction technological advancements

Internal industry collaboration creates opportunity for self-regulation in a sector that has an important structural effect on our economies and environments. The electronic design industry is positioned to make a difference because technological advances can facilitate our current economic transition by developing clean energy systems and supporting data analysis for environmental applications. We can also establish machine technologies that improve transportation, construction, natural resource management, and the health and livelihoods of communities.

We must see environmental challenges as an opportunity to engage in innovative best practices that align with ecological principles of complex, mutually effective relationships. Companies must make their own strategic, operational actions using appropriate collaboration within a network of stakeholders. Input from diverse sources contributes to a more extensive understanding of the business context and options for solution development. Information drawn from research and best practices supports robust risk management, which leads to better decision-making about operations and outcomes.

Operational orientation through risk management

Internal oversight of operations and risks can be carried out as a robust exercise in consistent problem-solving. This allows leaders to create an organisation that is not only resilient — being able to withstand stressors — but an antifragile one as well, which becomes stronger by addressing and interacting with challenges and pressures. A strategic company is a pragmatic one, learning from activities to continuously improve products and services. When a company has a clear understanding of where it is, it can better engage in its competitive advantages and make internal adjustments as necessary in response to changes in the marketplace, natural environment, and regulatory institutions.

In general, strategic plans support risk management by facilitating oversight and assessment, extending the time horizon for planning. This reflective activity reveals challenges, opportunities, and new information that can influence how decision-makers think an operation should be performed, a material used, or standards adhered to. Written plans that are regularly referenced, reviewed, and updated support adaptive transitions, reducing risks while managing change. When integrated into operational oversight, strategic project management provides information that influences the actions taken to achieve specific goals.

Strategy for operational environmental responsibility

When developing a strategic plan, the problem(s) at hand must first be identified. In the case of climate change, GHG emissions are too high and need to be reduced. Outcome goals can then be defined: for example, to reduce emissions, Keysight will use science-based targets to meet the goal of the Paris Agreement consensus to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. As a company, we commit to achieve net-zero emissions in our operations by the end of fiscal year 2040, attaining 100% renewable electricity and 20% energy reduction through efficiency and conservation initiatives. We also have a 2030 interim goal of 55% renewables and a 10% energy reduction for the halfway mark.

After identifying the problem and the desired change or outcome, setting a project schedule provides a starting point, baseline measurements to move forward, and an endpoint to achieve the goal. Keysight for example began our company emissions reduction campaign based on our fiscal year 2019 emissions generation levels and aims to reach net zero 10 years ahead of the Paris goal of 2050.

Once a goal and timeline have been set, actionable tasks are assigned to achieve them. Strategic tactics often include improving maintenance schedules, initiating company-wide conservation projects, electrifying vehicle fleet and processes, implementing on-site renewable energy installations, partnering with green utility providers, and selectively purchasing vetted offsets to neutralize residual emissions. To be sure these are achieved, it’s essential to define and monitor indicators of impacts, requiring data management and managerial analysis to track, in this case, energy usage and emissions output.

Assessment of performance and communication of results keeps projects accountable and on track. Regularly using the strategic plan in operational oversight, recording conclusions, and drawing usable information from those results supports the company’s development and longevity in many ways. External reporting can help make operations more efficient and sustainable by providing a whole-system view and assessment, and by building the company’s reputation for transparency and quality service provision. The assessment comes in the form of corporate social responsibility reports, annual shareholder updates, global frameworks and standards, industry working groups, and internal company communication of initiatives and progress that inform and engage individuals throughout the operation who carry out the company’s mission. When companies engage in self-directed strategic planning, they have the potential to enhance the effectiveness of their risk management, decision making, and communication of information about their activities, successes, and challenges in responsibly providing their service.

Evidence-based standards guided by company values

Implementing a strategy towards net-zero emissions can be achieved by taking new factors into consideration in operations, and integrating environmental indicators into regular accounting, oversight, and risk management.

Companies with strategies that align with their values will be well-positioned to respond to the needs for adjustment as we continue to encounter environmental and economic challenges since values influence and motivate behaviours. When we know who we are and what we’re doing, we can focus on solutions to collaboratively abate a crisis that affects all of us.

About the author

Ingrid Estrada is Chief Administrative Officer at Keysight Technologies, as well as Chief of Staff. Estrada’s responsibilities include directing Keysight’s global policies and programmes for leadership and talent development, human resources systems, education and ensuring effective and efficient internal company operations.

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