Race to Net Zero – Why data (and a plan) are the key to winning the race

Thursday, 12th November 2020

Guest blog by CGI’s Rich Hampshire, Vice President Consulting Expert

Following the first blog in this series on making sense of the jargon and the challenges facing organisations on their race to Net Zero, I’d like to focus on what it will take to beat climate change and reach Net Zero: an actionable game plan!

The finish line is clear: Net Zero or maybe even net negative! But how will we know we’ve crossed the winning line? And what route do we need to take to get there? How we’ll know we’re pacing ourselves to ensure that we get there in record time and in a healthy state are still up for grabs.

Knowing what we need to measure will enable us to identify where we’re starting from, help us to plot our roadmap to the finish line and determine how we’ll track our progress; whether to step up our pace if we are falling behind, or to take advantage of innovative new approaches and technologies – as they become available or more affordable – to accelerate our journey.

These important insights come from understanding what data is required to take informed decisions with confidence.

Once we know the data we need, we can identify what data we already have; what data we don’t have and, if it exists, how to access it; and crucially, what data we need but doesn’t exist – then we can work out how to generate it!

Breaking with the sporting metaphor, the organisations that will succeed in their Net Zero journeys are the ones that will be able to identify, capture, utilise and manage the right data to make progress towards Net Zero in a way that balances business and customer objectives with their decarbonisation objectives. It is important that your Net Zero roadmap reflects the various competing priorities and delivers your ambitions in the most cost-effective way.

For example, around energy usage, it is important to have a clear idea of the energy a business or citizen consumes, and data is key to this. This could be granular smart meter data across multiple sites or simply annual consumption data at building level. Either way, it will help justify investment in improving energy efficiency or in no-and-low carbon technologies to meet energy needs.

In the race to address the climate crisis, business leadership is not simply to seek to minimise the costs of compliance with legislation or regulation. The real opportunity is to identify how going beyond compliance delivers competitive advantage in your chosen market(s).

It’s the objectives and how they are measured that matter. Whilst the adage that, “what gets measured gets managed” is certainly true, what gets measured is more important than that. What gets measured drives not just activity, but also motivation, empowerment and behaviour – who doesn’t want to be successful?

Gaining visibility of how decisions and actions contribute to climate change is the first step towards change, while access to the right data at the right time will empower business leaders to make the right decisions and deliver quantifiable value.

For more information on this topic or CGI’s relationship with pro-manchester, please contact Duncan Anderson: Duncan.anderson@cgi.com