Companies falling short on climate pledges, survey finds

A survey carried out by Sphera has found that most companies are failing to incorporate net zero strategies into daily business operations.

Sphera, an ESG software, data and consulting firm, surveyed 300 operations managers in industrial sectors across the UK, US and Germany.

It found that although 85 per cent of companies now have net zero strategies, only 41 per cent of operations managers had seen sustainability strategies produce ‘significant changes’ in daily practices, and 32 per cent said their firms do not align with science-based emissions targets.

Many reported that responsibility for net zero is too heavily concentrated at the top, with 95 per cent reporting that accountability for net zero lies solely with C-suite executives and the board of directors. 42 per cent of operations managers said they receive little or no encouragement to contribute suggestions on improving the environmental sustainability of business operations.

Yet the survey found a growing desire among mid-level employees to share responsibility for climate change goals, with 40 per cent of operations managers calling for carbon targets to be included in their performance reviews.

Operations managers also reported being deeply concerned about the environment in their personal lives, with 35 per cent describing themselves as highly supportive of the need for radical climate action and 32 per cent driving an electric car.


The survey found that 40 per cent of companies now have a public net zero strategy, and 43 per cent have allotted over 20 per cent extra budget to sustainability and net zero initiatives.

“With high levels of personal and professional commitment to sustainability, operations managers have emerged as the secret weapon for businesses in the fight for more sustainable operations,” said Paul Marushka, Sphera’s CEO and president.

“Yet many companies are experiencing a gap between carbon pledges and operational practices because of limited involvement by operations managers. Our report finds that operations managers have the influence and desire to help drive decarbonisation across business operations, supplier and partner networks. Now, what they need are the data, software and best practices to do so.”

Marushka added that transparent tracking of decarbonisation results is the ‘missing link’ between business net zero pledges and practices that lead to progress.

“The key is to treat emissions reduction targets like financial targets, which are included in everything from quarterly reviews to employee KPIs,” Marushka said.

“Existing technologies and content, such as data analytics and AI, already enable companies to rapidly record and reduce their carbon footprint.”