Microsoft partners lead the way in sustainability by committing to net zero target

The vast majority of Microsoft’s partners in the UK plan to be Net Zero by 2050, in line with the target set by the UK Government.

In an update to Microsoft’s sustainability research released in October, 89% of partners said they were working to ensure that their organisations do not add to the amount of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere by, or before, 2050.

The new study – entitled “Partnering on the road to net zero” – explores the role the Microsoft UK Partner Network can play in accelerating the UK’s journey to net zero, given its broad reach (the group represents almost 1% of all UK VAT registered companies).

The findings also reveal that 94% of Microsoft partners believe technology will be critical to helping organisations reach net zero.

“Today’s research shows that Microsoft’s UK partners are eager to play their part in the UK’s transition to a greener and more prosperous future,” Orla McGrath, Global Partner Solutions Lead at Microsoft UK, said. “With their deep expertise in delivering innovative technology and consulting solutions, Microsoft partners are well placed to accelerate both their own journey to net zero and that of their customers.”

Above and beyond their own work to reduce their carbon footprint, nearly half (44%) of Microsoft partners revealed their customers are already asking for technologies that will help them reduce their own negative climate impact.

The research also reveals the key areas that can support Microsoft’s partners as they work with UK organisations to meet net zero targets. They are:

  • Connected sustainability – to help customers embed sustainability across the entire organisation, use in-house sustainability goals to showcase knowledge, create use cases and provide proof of concepts
  • Decarbonisation – Provide customers with tools to accurately calculate, track and report scope one, two and three emissions, helping them identify where to focus carbon reduction projects and how to evaluate their impact
  • Innovation – Meet growing customer demand for advanced technologies and analytics to deliver insights that optimise performance and accelerate pathways to net zero
  • Funding and skills – Lack of in-house skills is a top sustainability barrier for UK organisations. Recognise current talent and skills gaps and invest in the necessary in-house training, to enable workers to provide consultancy solutions that meet other organisations’ upskilling needs
  • Supply chain and collaboration – Many leaders are struggling to ensure their supply chains operate sustainably. Work with suppliers, customers and each other to identify material risks and unlock opportunities for improvements via business operations and upstream/downstream activities
  • Solutions – partners should deploy cutting-edge sustainability technologies, including Cloud for Sustainability, Emissions Impact Dashboard and Microsoft AppSource, which offer organisations tested, repeatable, transformative solutions that enable them to meet their sustainability targets – all in one place.

Elastacloud is a data science and cloud consultancy, and a Microsoft Gold Partner. It recently created a dedicated department to push forward the sustainability agenda with tailormade products and solutions. To boost digital skills, it has invested heavily in its Sustainability Studio team, which offers training programmes on the basics of climate science and climate AI modelling. The workforce is then able to factor this foundational understanding into everyday decisions, client offerings and the value proposition. It also helps create products that measure, monitor and assess carbon emissions through the use of AI, allowing clients to understand how they are performing compared with environmental, social and governance measures against their sector, market cap and peers.

Darshna Shah, Lead Data Scientist and Sustainability Strategist at Elastacloud, said: “You need to have sustainability at the core of your business, otherwise you will be outcompeted. You will not be seen favourably by consumers, investors and even competitors.”

“Partnering on the road to net zero” is an update to Microsoft’s sustainability research last year, entitled “Accelerating the Journey to Net Zero – A UK Blueprint for Carbon Reduction“. That found the majority of organisations in the UK are set to miss the Government’s target for net zero carbon emissions.

It also revealed how thousands of organisational leaders and employees know they are under pressure to make their companies more sustainable but most are struggling to know how to do that. This is partly due to a failure to turn strategy into action and a scarcity of in-house skills.

Both studies have been conducted in partnership with Dr Chris Brauer at Goldsmiths, University of London.

They come after Microsoft made bold commitments on carbon, waste, water and biodiversity, and announced that by 2050 it will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.

Read the full research: