Published on in Responsible Business

The greatest challenge of our time is to accelerate climate action to the point where we can arrest the catastrophic effects of climate change. To reach the global carbon reduction targets set in the Paris Agreement and maintain global temperatures at less than 1.5C below pre-industrial levels, we believe business must play a major role.

While it has become ‘in vogue’ to publicise a company’s sustainability efforts – a trend known as ‘greenwashing’ – we believe that more must be done to ensure that real change is happening. We all must make the tough choices necessary to transition to a greener, low carbon economy. Its importance means that it is something that cannot be open to interpretation. If companies are claiming that they are committed to reducing their carbon output, let their efforts be measured and judged.

In our recent pre budget submission to Government we called for the development of a low carbon standard or mark, which could be administered and monitored by a Government agency such as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) or the National Standards Association of Ireland (NSAI). This could be measured over a 3 or 5-year period and when achieved could be branded on products and websites so customers and consumers can make informed choices about the products and services they support.

While acknowledging that this would place an administrative burden on those companies who wish to achieve it and on the administering agency, all positive progress comes at a price and in this case, it is one worth paying. I believe that those companies who can demonstrate a legitimate and sustained reduction in their carbon output should be acknowledged.

We have seen the success of similar marks through the likes of the guaranteed Irish mark which provides an external validation that a company is true to its values. I have no doubt that there would a flurry of interest from companies, all eager to achieve such a mark. The increasingly discerning nature of customers and individual consumers and their value-driven preferences and climate conscience would mean that it can only be to a company’s benefit to achieve such a mark. It would become a point of competitive difference, and as we well know, in the business world peer companies are eager to keep pace with their market rivals. If we can create a positive competitive environment in which companies vie for position as the greenest in their industry, we will all benefit.

Such a mark would be a verification of a company’s bona fides in the fight to tackle climate change and would act as a reliable guide for consumers and B2B customers. It should also be a strong consideration in the provision of services to the private sector. Public sector tenders should preference those companies who are truly committed to the green agenda and aligned to the Government’s commitment to a just transition from fossil fuels.

I know from my conversations with our customers and with other business leaders that this movement is already gaining momentum and Fujitsu is eager to be at its forefront. It is for this reason that Fujitsu was among the first companies to sign up to the Business in the Community Ireland Low Carbon Pledge – the first dedicated pledge generated by Irish business to set industry standards on sustainability and reduce carbon usage. I’m hugely proud that we exceeded our own pledge to greatly reduce the company’s carbon output. Having committed to lower carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, Fujitsu Ireland has dropped its carbon output by 60%, ten years earlier than the committed target. While change must happen quickly, this is part of a long-term effort to achieve net zero emissions in alignment with the COP21 climate change Paris Agreement.

As the changes enforced through the pandemic have shown, Irish businesses and, most importantly, the people who work in them are capable of great adaptability and are imbued with a stern resilience. We must now harness these qualities to face an even greater challenge, climate change. I think that while we ask this of them, we should at least acknowledge and reward those companies and individuals who affect tangible positive change.

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Tony O'Malley

Tony O’Malley is CEO of Fujitsu Ireland and Chairman of the Fujitsu Ireland Limited board. He is leading the delivery of Fujitsu’s innovative ICT services to the public and private sectors.

As CEO, Tony is committed to creating value for customers and putting into practice Fujitsu’s vision to create a Human Centric Intelligent Society.

He also oversees significant research programmes in Ireland in collaboration with Fujitsu Laboratories Japan, in particular addressing Data Analytics and Healthcare systems for assisted living.

Tony sits on the Dublin Chamber of Commerce Council and is a member of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics Advisory Committee.

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